Breaking Down Illinois’ Equitable Climate Bill

Day 281 – Back in September, Illinois passed Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408). It is a nation-leading law to fight climate change, create good-paying jobs, improve the health of Illinoisans, and support disadvantaged communities. I didn’t know exactly what the new legislation involved, so I thought what better way to learn about than to write about it.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) summarized the key components.

  1. Slash climate-changing carbon pollution by phasing out fossil fuels in the power sector. Require Illinois to achieve a 100% zero-emissions power sector by 2045, with significant emissions reductions before then. Illinois will be the first Midwest state to require a carbon-free power sector, joining California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and Washington.
  2. Grow renewable energy generation more than five-fold. Invest $580 million a year to generate 40% of Illinois’ energy from wind and solar by 2030 and 50% by 2040.
  3. Extend cost-saving energy efficiency programs. Save people hundreds of millions of dollars on their electric bills each year. Expand requirements for energy efficiency investments in low-income households.
  4. Expand economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities and people of color.  Invest $115 million per year to create job training hubs and create career pipelines for the people who need them most, incubate and grow small clean energy businesses in disadvantaged communities, and more.
  5. Clean up Illinois’ transportation sector. Creating planning processes for beneficial electrification, and providing rebates for electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 
  6. Support communities and workers impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels. Invest up to $40 million per year to replace lost property taxes, and support economic development and job training.
  7. Move towards cleaner buildings. Creating a statewide stretch building code and including building electrification measures that reduce fossil fuel use in buildings as part of energy efficiency programs.
  8. Provide limited support for nuclear plants. Provides payments to economically struggling Illinois nuclear plants totaling about $700 million over five years. 
  9. Hold utilities accountable with stronger ethics rules and reforms. Plan our electric grid in a more transparent, equitable way and help prepare the grid for electric vehicles and clean, efficient all-electric buildings.
  10. Create good-paying clean energy jobs across Illinois showing that economic growth and a healthier environment go hand-in-hand. This bill will grow all sectors of the clean energy and the jobs that come with them, and requires family-sustaining wages and benefits for most clean energy jobs in Illinois, encouraging union jobs while also ensuring that small businesses in disadvantaged communities can get a foothold.

The climate crisis is upon us and real meaningful changes need to happen now. This is a good step forward, but Illinois and states around the country need to do more to help heal our damaged planet.

Tomorrow, compostable snack bags.

Green & Grumpy: Your Guide to Sustainable Living

Day 218Green and Grumpy is a website with a great deal of information. They cover topics like recycling, climate change, yard and garden, reduce and reuse, green products and much more. Their tagline reads, “It ain’t easy being green. Practical sustainable living ideas for real, imperfect people.” And that’s why it’s such a great resource. They don’t expect you to do everything perfectly. They realize that people want to help the environment, but are not always sure how to do it. They give practical, useful information that people can use in their day to day lives. Information that will direct them to the best practices for a more environmentally friendly way of life.

Their articles include subjects like:

Do I Need to Rinse Recyclables?

Yes, recycling is broken. It’s still worth doing.

Biodegradable vs. Compostable – What the difference?

How to Waste Less Food

Can I Recycle Tea Tins, Coffee Cans and Cookie Tins?

I hope my daily posts on ways to save the planet are helpful, but I do think having more places to find information is important. The easier it is to understand how to live a more sustainable life, the easier it is to implement the changes needed to be successful in reaching your goals.

Tomorrow, an organization helping furnish homes for people exiting homelessness.

Hydroponics: Harvests from Home

Day 176Hydroponics is not new. It’s been around for a very long time. The earliest examples of hydroponics date back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China. Humans used these techniques thousands of years ago. This method of growing plants without the use of soil is becoming more popular as the years go by, for various reasons. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons involves the increasing problem of global warming. We are going to find ourselves finding it more and more difficult to grow food using traditional methods due to the increase temperatures around the planet.

I ended up writing about this subject after seeing an advertisement for Lettuce Grow. The concept was not new to me, but I was intrigued by their product.

Here are a few things that impressed me.

  1. You could have produce ready to be eaten within 3 weeks.
  2. About 4 square feet needed compared to 40 square feet with traditional gardening.
  3. A substantially less amount of water is needed compared to a traditional garden.
  4. The Farmstand system is made from ocean bound plastic.
  5. For every 10 Farmstands purchased, one is donated.

With anything, there are drawbacks. The Farmstand system needs constant power (as do most hydroponic systems), even if growing outside. This is a rather large drawback, especially not knowing what the cost of using that electricity over a long period of time.

I think it’s a great concept and Lettuce Grow is not the only company offering hydroponic systems. I think it’s something to consider when dealing with space issues and water use. If you’re feeling motivated enough, you could create your own electric free hydroponics system.

For now, I think the family and I will stick with the traditional gardening. Thankfully, here in the midwest, the weather has not become as extreme as in other parts of the country. I do believe, hydroponics will become a very popular option for growing food in our country and around the world. As the climate changes, we will have to find ways to adapt.

Tomorrow, an alternative to your plastic toothbrush.

Why are Fireflies Disappearing?

Day 160 – When I was a kid, lightning bugs (fireflies) were one of the main indications that summer had arrived. My sisters and I always made sure to be extra careful when catching them. We only wanted a brief moment with the magical insect. We were always quick to release them back into the warm summer, night sky.

Sadly, my kids have not had the same experience I had growing up. The opportunities to enjoy a good chase around the yard, trying to catch those flashing lights, has ceased to exist. The number of fireflies has decreased over the years due to numerous factors. Not only has habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change cause numbers to decline, but light pollution has played a major role in disrupting the firefly populations.

“Human light pollution is believed to interrupt firefly flash patterns. Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass. Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating—meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season.” firefly.org

Why do we need to protect fireflies?

  1. They are important pollinators.
  2. The larvae of some species are specialized predators. They feed on slugs and mites that can harm garden plants.
  3. They are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, which make them good indicators for scientists to access healthy ecosystems.
  4. Luciferin, the chemical that gives fireflies their glow, has major applications in medical research, particularly for diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and various heart diseases.

However, the main reason we should all care about the well being of the firefly is because they represent the amazing nature that surrounds us everyday.

“They spark wonder in people. When you are in your back yard or park you notice them and are amazed. They are one of the few things that universally give people a feeling of falling in love in nature.” – Sara Lewis (biology professor at Tufts University

Decreasing our carbon footprint and pesticide use will be helpful to the survival of the fireflies. However, one of the easiest things we could do is to just turn off the lights.

Tomorrow, spreading random acts of green.

TED-Ed: 5 minute videos that will enrich your knowledge

Day 110 – I’m a strong believer in the fact that we are never too old to learn something new. There is always some new piece of information or perspective that we can discover. Last summer, I used TED-Ed videos to educate the kids on a variety of topics and subjects. We watched, “The last chief of the Comanches and the fall of an empire“, “The rise and fall of the Celtic warriors” and “The rise and fall of the Mongol Empire“, just to name a few.

I thought TED-Ed videos could be a great tool to learn more about environmental issues. The videos are short and nicely animated to grab and keep your attention. The information is valuable and can help people understand such topics as global warming, climate change and reduce, reuse, recycle.

Here are a few TED-Ed videos you should check out.

  1. What really happens to the plastic you throw away – Emma Bryce
  2. Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei
  3. Climate change: Earth’s giant game of Tetris – Joss Fong
  4. “What happened when we all stopped” narrated by Jane Goodall
  5. How long will human impacts last? – David Biello
  6. Is the weather actually becoming more extreme? – R. Saravanan
  7. Why the Arctic is climate change’s canary in the coal mine – William Chapman
  8. What happens if you cut down all of a city’s trees? – Stefan Al
  9. How does fracking work? – Mia Nacamulli
  10. The wildly complex anatomy of a sneaker – Angel Chang

To view more TED-Ed videos involving the environment, click HERE.

To receive TED-Ed videos in your inbox, be sure to subscribe.

Tomorrow, collecting the rain.

Watch Tomorrow: Climate of Hope

Day 107 – Climate of Hope will air tomorrow, Sunday, April 18 at 11pm on ABC (check your local listing for time and channel). Though, I wish it was being televised at a more appropriate time, hopefully, many can DVR the program and watch later.

“Our America: Climate of Hope” is an hour-long special that will bring together ABC Owned Television Stations, trusted meteorologists and National Geographic Explorers to look at the impact of climate change and the innovations and ingenuity being applied to address it. The program will cover coastal flooding, wildfires and other environmental challenges that negatively impact communities. They will also discuss the disproportional impact those challenges have on communities of color.

Even though the video footage will be difficult to watch and will no doubt seem like an unwinnable situation, the program will cover cutting edge innovations, introduce young environmental leaders and offer practical solutions that we can all do to help reduce climate change. It’s definitely an hour we should all set aside and allow ourselves to be open to the ideas and suggestions being discussed. The change to a healthier environment starts with us.

Watch the trailer HERE for Our America: Climate of Hope.

Tomorrow, Recycle Popup recap.

Earth Hour is Happening Today!

Day 86 – Tonight at 8:30pm (your time zone) we’re turning the lights off. For one hour we’re going to unplug and switch off to call attention to climate change and loss of nature and biodiversity.

Earth Hour was created by the World Wildlife Fund and partners in 2007 to bring people in Sydney together in a symbolic light-out event. The event has grown to more than 180 countries and territories. Held on the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour has encouraged millions of people to switch off their lights to show support for our planet.

Earth Hour is not only a symbolic event but it has made a positive environmental impact. They drive many legislative changes by using the power of the people and their actions to show world leaders and decision makers that the environment is important and needs protecting.

“2021 presents an unmissable opportunity for change. In 2021, world leaders will come together during key global conferences and forums to set the environmental agenda for the next decade and beyond. Crucial political decisions will be made on climate action, nature, and sustainable development –- decisions that will directly affect the fate of humanity and our planet for years to come. With your support, Earth Hour 2021 could be a spotlight moment that puts nature at the center of international conversations. Together, we can speak up and show world leaders and other decision-makers around the globe that nature matters and urgent action must be taken to reverse nature loss.” – Earth Hour

Besides turning off your lights, here’s what else you can do to help make Earth Hour 2021 a success;

This year – amidst the current global circumstances – in addition to switching off your lights, we also invite you to raise awareness and create the same unmissable sight online, so that the world sees our planet, the issues we face, and our place within it, in a new light.
How? It’s simple. On the night of Earth Hour (March 27), we’ll be posting a must-watch video on all our social media pages – and all you have to do is share it. 

Share it to your Stories or to your wall, re-Tweet it, send it via DM, tag friends in the comments – the choice is yours!  Our goal is simple: put the spotlight on our planet and make it the most watched video in the world on March 27 (or beyond!) so that as many people as possible hear our message.

The goals of sharing the video:

  1. Help others – especially those who are not environmentally conscious – to see their role amidst the planetary crisis in a new light.
  2. Build momentum towards the United Nations’ Conference on Biodiversity later in the year – a conference where world leaders will have the opportunity to secure an international commitment to protect and restore nature by 2030.

So, turn the lights off and turn the spotlight on the planet and our need to protect it.

Tomorrow, update on the DVD collection.

The Warming of Our Oceans Can’t be Solved with Ice Cubes

Day 82 – It happened last year. I was watching the news, which I have been told I watch too much. There was a story about one of the many hurricanes that pummeled the Gulf Coast (2020 saw a record-breaking 30 named storms and 12 landfalling storms – NOAA). The reporter was interviewing various residents to find out their reactions regarding the latest storm. One individual became very irritated at the mention of global warming being the cause of the severe storms. His response, “If the ocean temperature is warming and causing these storms, then why doesn’t the government just throw a bunch of ice cubes in it? Like really big ones.” At first, I thought he had to be kidding. Sadly, it became very clear that he truly believed that this was a valid solution.

In the past few years, the topic of global warming and climate change has been a hot topic, up for debate. I guess you could argue about the causes, but I never thought you could actually debate their existence. How can we question the data? How can we question what is right in front of our faces, in the form of devastation and destruction that follows every hurricane, tornado, wild fire or biblical flooding? Well, when you figure that there are millions of people that still believe that the Earth is flat, I guess it’s not that hard to understand that there are those that believe global warming is a hoax.

Today is World Meteorological Day. The theme this year, “Our ocean, our climate and weather.”

“Over 90% of the extra heat trapped to the Earth by humanity’s carbon emissions is stored in the ocean – only about 2.3% warms the atmosphere, while the rest melts snow and ice and warms the land.”World Meteorological Organization

It’s easy to say that global warming and climate change are problems too big to tackle. Many of you ask, “What can I do? I’m just one person.” But, we have to get past the doom and gloom and realize that we can all make a difference. The decisions we make everyday can reverse our current course. The efforts we make to be environmentally friendly, can and will help. It won’t happen overnight, maybe not even a year from now. We might not even see it in our lifetime. However, leaving a healthier planet for those that follow us, should be the only motivation we need.

So, the next time you’re wondering what you can do to make a difference, all you have to do is peruse this blog. These small and rather simple suggestions shared here on a daily basis, can make a large impact. Go a step farther and share with others ways in which you’re helping the planet. We’re all familiar with the phrase, “the more the merrier.” Well, this planet saving party could use all the help it can get.

Tomorrow, it’s OK to say no.

Help Save the Polar Bears by Fighting Climate Change

Day 58 – Today is International Polar Bear Day! Those absolutely majestic arctic creatures that are endangered of extinction because of global warming.

“Every winter, Arctic sea ice grows around the pole, its frozen tendrils threading along northern coasts. Right now sea ice has just passed its peak coverage for the year, and will begin to shrink with the coming of spring. It’s a crucial time for polar bears, whose food supply is inextricably linked to sea ice. And in recent decades, sea ice has been shrinking faster than ever. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2019 has the seventh-lowest sea ice cover in the Arctic since they began collecting satellite data 40 years ago.” – National Geographic

Global warming is that gargantuan problem that seems impossible to tackle, absolutely absurd to comprehend and inconceivable to think that any of us could actually help the situation. But what if I told you, you could make a difference in your everyday life? And that the choices you make on a daily basis could help the polar bears?

Some of these suggestions have been mentioned in past posts. They are practical, easy and do not require much effort. If they are followed on a regular basis, they could have a huge impact on decreasing global warming.

  1. Waste less food. Composting and/or making sure you eat your leftovers, can make a huge impact on the amount of food you throw away.
  2. Eat less factory-farmed red meat. As mentioned on Day 15, reducing the amount of red meat in your diet can reduce greenhouse gases.
  3. Consume less energy and water. On Day 10, I shared a list of ways to reduce your energy and water use.
  4. Shop local. Not only are you putting dollars into your community, but you are reducing carbon emissions. By shopping local goods do not need to be shipped to you.
  5. Support non-profits fighting global warming. Your donation dollars can help initiatives and movements to help improve our planet.
  6. Recycle and purchase recycled material. On Day 26, I write about purchasing recycled toilet paper. There are countless options when looking for products made from recycled material.
  7. Find alternatives to single use plastic. Whether if it’s reusable produce bags or reusable storage bags, finding alternatives to single use plastics is become easier every day.
  8. Try to use your car less. Walking and biking are great options, along with public transportation.
  9. Consume less and waste less. Sometimes you just have to say no and realize that there are things you just don’t need.
  10. Open a dialogue and find common ground on the subject. The more we talk about global warming, the more people will understand and want to help.

Click HERE to read about 101 ways to fight climate change.

So, skip the cheeseburger, ride a bike, purchase recycled toilet paper, or shop at a local farmers market. All these decisions can reduce greenhouse gases and give those polar bears a fighting chance.

Tomorrow, our love-hate relationship with clothes.

The Doomsday Clock: 100 seconds to midnight

Day 28The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, due to the concerns of the physics community after World War II. The clock indicates how near we are to a humanity-ending catastrophe.

“Many scientists and engineers had taken part in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just a few months after the war finished, two University of Chicago physicists – Eugene Rabinowitch and Hyman Goldsmith – launched the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. This journal aimed to encourage scientists to engage in political issues. The war had made it painfully clear that even theoretical physics is no longer an abstract intellectual exercise, somehow divorced from the real-world. Part of the journal’s remit was to consider future dangers. It was a desire to communicate these risks to the public that led to the Doomsday Clock.” – Physics World

The clock has fluctuated over the years. Some years it has nudged closer to midnight, while other years it has moved away. Last year it was the closest to midnight than it has ever been in history, just a mere 100 seconds (and that was before the pandemic swept over the world). The year before, it was set at 2 minutes to midnight.

“Today, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board sets the clock. This group of 18 experts, with diverse backgrounds ranging from policy and diplomacy to military history and nuclear science, meets twice a year to discuss events, policies and trends. They consult widely with their colleagues across a range of disciplines and also seek the views of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes multiple Nobel laureates. Each year, the clock’s position is announced in late January. The Bulletin currently recognizes three major threats to civilization: climate change, nuclear proliferation and “disruptive technologies,”including bio- and cybersecurity. “Each of these threats has the potential to destroy civilization and render the Earth largely uninhabitable by human beings,” it says.” – University of Chicago

Picture compliments of Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

Yesterday, the hands of the clock remained the same. We stayed at 100 seconds to midnight. Major contributors to us remaining close to humanity-ending catastrophe were COVID-19, rampant spread of misinformation on the internet, and the increase threat of nuclear weapons and climate change. The main factor that kept us from moving even closer to midnight was having a new president “who acknowledges climate change as a profound threat and supports international cooperation and science-based policy which puts the world on a better footing to address global problems.”

The Doomsday Clock was not created to strike fear into people, but instead to push people into action. Once we realize that we can all make a difference, we just might be able to take a few ticks off the clock.

To read the entire 2021 Doomsday Clock Statement, click HERE.

Tomorrow, a great option for your old paint.