Humanity has reached a crossroads in the ways we relate to ourselves and each other as a civilization, and to this magnificent planet with its spectacular diversity of life, culture, ecosystems, and panoramas. Will our advances in technology serve mankind or destroy us? In view of the reality that we are all in this together, the only viable option is for us to join forces to create the wonderful world we want to live in, and leave for future generations.
Around the globe we see people coming together with an abundance of good will. This week begins with a celebration of the Reverend Martin Luther King, and his dream of a world in which we live and love one another. It continues through Saturday, January 20th, 2018, on the anniversary of the first Women's March on Washington, attended by hundreds of thousands across the U.S. This year, the Mid-Missouri Solidarity Network is holding a march and rally in Columbia, MO. More details below on the Events coming up. In the Missourian: Columbia Solidarity March and Rally Saturday
100% Renewable Energy is Achievable
In a global survey, more than 70% of the world's energy experts agreed that powering the globe with 100% renewable resources is achievable.
There is still time to prevent a level of global warming that would make parts of the planet too hot to inhabit, melt glaciers that provide water to billions, flood many of the world's coastal cities and push mass migration to a full -blown crisis.
We have about three years left to bend global greenhouse gas emissions to a downward trajectory if we hope to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, a group of leading climate experts warned in the journal Nature - Three Years To Safeguard Our Climate last June. In an article that was both urgent and optimistic, showing that the daunting task can be met using existing solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, energy conservation, and energy efficient technologies that are already at hand.
"The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020." The authors show in the ‘Carbon crunch’ graph below:
Clean Energy Is Soaring Across the U.S. & Around the World
According to Inside Climate News, despite President Donald Trump’s best efforts, in many ways, the transformation of the energy economy in a new, green direction continues apace. These trends are emerging, both in the United States and abroad.
The cost of renewable energy keeps going down, comparing favorably with coal. Battery technology also continues to improve and get cheaper. Digital technology is also making electric markets cleaner and more efficient.
Among the most recent are Boulder, Colorado, the first city in the U.S. with a voter-approved carbon tax, plans to power 100 percent of its electricity with renewables by 2030.
Boulder CO - US News & World Report - Getty Images
Atlanta, Georgia is one of the first major southern cities to commit to 100 percent clean energy. Renewables will completely power city buildings by 2025, and the wider community by 2035.
Atlanta GA - US News & World Report - Getty Images
St. Petersburg, Florida, was the fist city in the state to commit to 100 percent clean energy in 2016. Among other initiatives, the city is creating a solar financing loan program to enable its low income residents to go solar and make other energy efficiency home improvements.
Madison, Wisconsin currently gets 89 percent of its electricity from fossil fuel sources, so this city of nearly 253,000 must work closely with its primary utility company to plan for 100 percent renewable energy.
Salt Lake City was the first city in Utah to make a 100 percent renewable energy commitment in 2016, that was soon followed by neaby winter sports towns Moab and Park City. Salt Lake City has set higher LEEDS standards for new city buildings, and plans to focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric cars in the future.
Salt Lake City UT - US News & World Report - Getty Images
Kansas City led Missouri in establishing a Climate Protection Plan in 2008. The benefits for Kansas City are manifold. Cities that take action to reduce greenhouse gases are saving millions of taxpayer dollars while boosting real estate values, attracting new jobs and businesses and improving livability. Investments in mass transit, commitments to clean energy sources, healthier air quality and new partnerships with the private sector all result in greater economic prosperity for residents.
Renewables are already the cheaper option in many places. The costs of new solar photovoltaics have come down by 70 percent since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency.
Pre-Trump policies, like U.S. tax breaks for renewables, have survived. The social and market forces that have been shouldering coal aside persist. The mantle of leadership has passed not only to Europe, China and developing nations, but to American cities and states.
St. Louis Commits To 100 Percent Renewable Energy By 2035
Lawmakers in St. Louis have approved a measure aimed at powering the city entirely on renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, by 2035. The resolution, introduced by St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and unanimously approved by the legislative body, tasks the city with developing a plan by December 2018 to wean itself off fossil fuels.
St. Louis joins more than 40 U.S. cities that have set a goal of 100 percent clean energy, according to the Sierra Club.
“Every person in the city of St. Louis will benefit from cleaner air and a healthier environment,” Reed told the HuffingtPost.
Under 5 percent of the St. Louis region’s energy currently comes from renewable sources. Reed acknowledged the city has “a long, long, long way to go.”
“But if we do not set the goal and begin working toward it, then 50 years from now we’ll still be [in the same position],” he said. “We have an ability to do it. We have everything we need to do it.”
The single-page resolution states that “St. Louis strives to remain a leader among its peer cities” already working toward such commitments. It also notes that the city consistently ranks among the nation’s worst for asthma and dangerous smog.
Along with health and environmental benefits, Reed predicted the move will open the door for job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
Although the resolution does not hold the city to anything, it establishes a clear goal meant to influence future actions. “As projects now begin to move through the city and they come to the board of aldermen, we will be looking for the renewable pieces in those projects that begin to drive the whole system” toward 100 percent renewable energy, Reed said.
Sara Edgar, of the Sierra Club’s Missouri chapter, said the resolution sends a clear signal about the city’s priorities. “We want to put our residents to work in good, safe, local jobs,’” she said. “It can be a win-win for everyone. We can protect health. We can improve air, we can improve water. We can address climate change. We can save people money on their bills. Why wouldn’t we be moving in that direction?”
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ST LOUIS CITY BOARD OF ALDERMEN
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed introduced the clean energy resolution
St. Louis is home to at least three coal companies, including giants Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, that have struggled in recent years, either filing for bankruptcy or teetering on the brink of it. Asked about the resolution earlier this week, Peabody spokesperson Charlene Murdock warned that it could backfire.
“St. Louis and Missouri enjoy some of the lowest electricity costs in the nation, benefiting from a resilient and reliable energy portfolio with diversity of fuels,” she said in an email. “We caution against artificial renewable standards that will increase costs and reduce reliability.”
Murdock pointed to California, which is making a hard push for renewables but where consumers pay significantly more than Missourians for energy. “Technology is the better approach for environmental improvements,” she said.
Ameren Missouri, the utility that serves the greater St. Louis area, announced last month that it plans to widely expand wind and solar generation. The power company has set a goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 80 percent by 2050.
In June, the board of aldermen adopted a resolution — also introduced by Reed — committing to uphold the historic Paris climate agreement, the international accord under which nearly 200 nations pledged to cut carbon emissions in an effort to ward off the worst effects of global climate change. The board’s move came roughly a week after President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw the U.S. from the historic pact.
Reed told HuffPost that the Trump administration’s push to roll back environmental safeguards and derail America’s efforts to combat climate change makes it “increasingly important” for cities like St. Louis to step up.
“Some of the things that Donald Trump has done since he became commander in chief just goes against everything that I stand [for], that the people of St. Louis stand for,” he said. “It certainly adds to the urgency and [shows] how critical it is that we do something locally.”
St. Louis’ commitment follows similar pledges by Atlanta and South Lake Tahoe, California.
COLUMBIA — A day after President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece joined mayors from more than 80 cities across the country to strengthen local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Treece said he would sign on with Climate Mayors, a coalition of U.S. mayors that in Missouri includes St. Louis and Kansas City.
"Climate change is a major concern in the Midwest, and has a direct impact on insurance losses, insurance premiums and economic competitiveness," Treece said in a Friday afternoon news release. "Columbia is encouraged by the partnerships forming with other cities, universities and businesses to support creating good jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy."
Climate Mayors' goal is to keep commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to improve local environments and the economy.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece to sign on with Climate Mayors to combat climate change. -- Columbia Missourian
"Columbia has long been a leader in sustainability," Treece said. "Working together to address climate change is part of the city's culture and values."
Treece noted that Columbia in 2004 became the first Missouri city to adopt a renewable energy portfolio ordinance that expects 15 percent of energy consumed from renewable resources this year. The ordinance, approved by voters, ramps up benchmark percentages to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029.
Treece also invoked the 2006 Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and noted that Columbia in 2014 established the Mayor's Climate Protection Awards to recognize local businesses and organizations that promote sustainability.
The city also has established goals to reduce carbon emissions.
Treece cited Trump's announced withdrawal from the Paris accord as a reason for Columbia and other cities to double-down on fighting climate change.
"The recent action by the White House to withdraw from the Paris Agreement does not stop Columbia's efforts," Treece said. "And it should motivate all of us to support action on climate change."
By signing on with Climate Mayors, the city's news release said, Columbia is committing to "adopting, honoring and upholding the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Signatories will intensify efforts to meet their cities' current climate goals, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy."
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, released information Tuesday about this opposition to this year’s utility bill, SB 564.
“This is nothing more than the fox managing the chicken house,” Libla said. “Just another attempt to diminish the oversight of the PSC. This bill does nothing for the grid. It is all about the greed!”
The bootheel senator released an analysis of reasons why he opposes SB 564.
“Let’s quickly examine the facts of the bill:
“1. Senate Bill 564 removes discretion from the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) to decide important ratemaking issues. The PSC is the only consumer protection agency against monopolies. This bill adopts ratemaking mechanisms that greatly benefit utilities with even higher profits and all classes of customers will experience much higher electric rates;
“2. The PSC has previously rejected ratemaking mechanisms in this bill, such as surcharged increases in transmission costs, tracked property taxes and cybersecurity costs. So, while a utility is earning more than its authorized profit, these trackers treat the utility as if it was actually earning less than authorized, and then pass the tracked increases on to future ratepayers – pretty tricky;
“3. Senate Bill 564 also adopts another PSC-rejected ratemaking mechanism which is plant-in-service-accounting (PISA). The purpose of PISA is to eliminate regulatory lag, the most significant financial incentive a monopoly utility has to curb its costs. The PSC previously rejected Ameren’s request for PISA, referring to it as “a solution in search of a problem”;
“4. Proponents of Senate Bill 564 argue the bill’s rate increase ‘caps’ will benefit consumers by limiting average annual rate increases to no more than 3 percent. Truth is… the bill does not include any rate increase caps, there are merely rate increase milestones above which the utilities still collect the inflated rates. Utilities could, conceivably, increase rates by any amount per year and the only consequence would be a penalty that would be much smaller than the extra collections;
“5. The rate increase milestones for large industrial customers is different in that the other customers must, for five years, subsidize the industrials by paying even greater rate increases in order to hold the large industrials’ increases to 2 percent. Ameren’s last approved rate increase was 3.5 percent which averaged 1.75 percent per year;
“Senate Bill 564 will increase all ratepayers’ electric rates, but will increase small and average customers’ rates the most,” Libla said. “Dozens of lobbyists are well paid to represent the monopoly utilities; we are paid to represent our constituents.”
In past sessions, Libla has been a consistent leader against utility reform efforts similar to this bill. SB 564 is not identical to past sessions.
Events in Mid-Missouri
On Saturday, January 20th, 2018, on the anniversary of the first Women's March on Washington, the Mid-Missouri Solidarity Network will be holding a march and rally in Columbia, MO. Starting at 1:00 at the Boone County Courthouse Square, 705 E. Walnut St., Columbia, MO 65201.
There are over 30 diverse mid-Missouri organizations co-hosting and the list is growing daily. Please share the event far and wide. Everyone is welcome to attend!
The rally will span many issues including: Civil Rights, Economy, Education, Environment, Foreign Policy, Healthcare and many, many more. Whatever your cause may be, you are bound to find like minded individuals in attendance. It is our hope to voice a positive message for change and how we can all be a part of it!
Gathering and Music (Violet and the Undercurrents) to begin at 1pm. Opening speakers to begin at 1:20pm. Our march will take us 10 city blocks. If you are unable to join us for the march, stick around and stay warm in the County Government building and then join us after the march for our other fabulous speakers! More details on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/195920854310612/
Jefferson City Area Indivisible is chartering a bus to this event. It will leave from Jefferson City by 12:20 pm, and return hopefully by 4:45 pm. The cost to riders will be $10. This will help avoid the problem of parking in downtown Columbia. More details on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1412480162194350/
Wednesday, Feb. 7, Osage Group general membership meeting, 6:30 PM Refreshments, 7:00 PM Meeting Starts. Program and location to be announced. Stay tuned to the newsletter and/or Facebook page or group.
Save the dates:
Wednesday, March 7, Osage Group Lobby Day at State Capitol, Jefferson City, 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Columbia Earth Day Festival, Sunday, April 22 with a backup rain date on April 29
Finding Common Ground: Listening for shared values and opportunities for collaboration
February 16-18, 2018
St. Scholastica Conference Center, Fort Smith, AR
In this is challenging time, we are engaged in building relationships and discovering what it will take to enact effective national legislation in today’s political climate. The rapid growth of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives is evidence of the high level of climate awareness and advocacy in our country.
As we work to get a carbon fee and dividend bill introduced in Congress, we will focus on our roles in negotiating such a bill through the legislative process to see it become law!
Please join us for a weekend full of learning experiences suited for all volunteers, from veterans to first timers. Get to know your fellow volunteers and create wonderful memories while recharging that climate advocate energy.
Our Arkansas volunteers are hosting us at St. Scholastica Conference Center in Ft. Smith, AR, which offers comfortable lodging, delicious food, and a welcoming community setting.
Featuring a Panel Presentation: “Farm Talk: Adapting to Change” and “The Oil & Gas Industry” A panel of farmers and representatives of the oil & gas industry will explore how climate change is impacting these two groups that are so critical to the economy in the Tornadoes region. Join us as we drill down and dig into these two areas that impact all of us in ways we might not realize. We look forward to seeing you in February!
Marine biologist Nan Hauser has spent her professional life around whales. In September, she had an encounter with a humpback whale that was like nothing she had experienced before. The video shows a whale nudging her. She tell NPR's Ari Shapiro that she thinks the whale was trying to protect her from a nearby shark.