Getting proactive about fighting climate change Symposium looks at national, community and individual levels

Click here for Full article in Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Article by JESSE ADCOCK

SARANAC LAKE — Around 100 turned out for a climate change symposium at the First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake, where the issue was discussed at the national, community and individual levels.

Titled “Climate Action: What are we doing about climate change?,” the symposium was organized by Adirondack Voters for Change, and co-sponsored by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Paul Smith’s College, First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake and TriLakes350.org.

“I wanted to focus on the action part,” said event organizer Ellen Beberman, committee chair of Adirondack Voters for Change. “For anything to change, it has to go from top to bottom. The whole society has to change. .. so the focuses went national, state, local, individual.

National Level

First to present was Richard Brandt, a research meteorologist from the University of Washington and current manager of SUNY Albany’s Whiteface Mountain Field Station, monitoring air quality.

“We just recently have developed a collaboration with Rochester and Harvard and SUNY Plattsburgh, and have a remarkable instrument that’s measuring the CO2 every few seconds, as well as the methane,” Brandt said, of the field station.

He said they’ve recorded a CO2 level increase from 350 to 420 ppm in recent history, and have been detecting increases in methane as well, from fracking in Pennsylvania. These greenhouse gas buildups cause hotter temperatures, faster ice melt in the world’s polar regions and rising sea levels.

“I wish I could tell more positive stories, but this is the story of climate,” Brandt said. “From the science perspective, what I’m trying to say is time is of the essence.

Next, Paul Smith’s College professor Joe Henderson, Ph.D., presented on the social dynamics of climate change, and the Green New Deal.

“Younger Americans are more worried than older Americans, which makes sense, given that they are the ones that are going to suffer the most from this,” Henderson said.

There is good news: the American people are very slowly moving toward acceptance, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

“Gradually, people are accepting it in the United States,” Henderson said. “Doubt around the science has been diminished.”

Henderson said Millennials are most likely to identify climate change as a problem — even Millennial Republicans.

“There’s a generational thing,” Henderson said. “We are the only advanced country in the world that has one political party that denies the science of climate change.”

Cathy Brown, a volunteer with the North Country chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, presented on the Carbon Dividend Act. It’s a bipartisan piece of legislation that would add a carbon tax onto industries that use fossil fuels, to drive the market toward renewable energy sources.

“At this late stage, I don’t think any one bill is going to be enough. We’re going to need a number of tools and I think this is a really important one,” Brown said.

Community level

At the community level, municipalities have the option of working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to be designated Clean Energy Communities.

Kate Glenn, sustainability coordinator at Paul Smith’s College, laid out the basics of the program — with the state offering incentives, like matching grant funding, for communities that work to reduce their carbon footprint.

“It’s a toolkit that the state was able to create,” said Patrick Murphy, village trustee and member of the village Climate Smart Committee. “We can pick and choose exactly what’s going to work best for Saranac Lake.”

Next, Emmet Smith, co-founder of Northern Power and Light, explained the benefits of supporting local renewable power generators.

“My thesis here to today is talk about electricity choices,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for people in the North Country to be able to choose a renewable electricity supply. And it’s one of the simpler things we can all do to mitigate our carbon footprint.”

Typically, when a customer pays the utility for their electricity, they might be paying 15 cents per kilowatt hour.

“Your local powerplant gets 1.5 cents,” Smith said. “You can’t build a new solar array on 1.5 cents, even with state subsidies.”

But through community distributed generation, a new power supply option by the state, a customer can buy a share in a local renewable generator in return for a credit on their utility bill.

“It actually results in a much higher rate for electricity going to the generator,”Smith said.

This means a community can preserve existing assets, like old hydro-electric generators, localize the value of electricity and localize the ownership of renewable generators.

“By localizing the value, ultimately that economic power gives you the ability to localize control,” he said.

Individual

Betsy Brooks, head of technical services and automation with the Clinton, Essex and Franklin Library system presented on the “Drawdown” project, which compiled 100 strategies for reversing global warming. Strategies range from city planning, to the individual behaviors to reduce human impact on the environment.

Top solutions included practicing a plant-rich diet, reducing food waste, preserving tropical forests and building offshore wind turbines and rooftop solar panels.

The Rev. Joann White, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake, presented on faith and climate change. She recounted being in theological seminary, and asking a professor what God created the earth from. White said the professor replied that God used his own self, and therefore, all of creation is sacred. She outlined some of the efforts her congregation has undertaken, from hikes to renovating the building to be more energy efficient.

Beberman said the symposium was not a one time thing, and that Adirondack Voters for Change plans to organize more climate-related community events, like a panel discussion with North Country politicians.

Natural Science in the News: Expert Panel on Climate Change at the Adirondack Park Agency

Faculty members Celia Evans, Curt Stager and Lee Ann Sporn comprise an expert panel on climate change at the Adirondack Park Agency in Ray Brook, N.Y.: ‘We’re a force of nature’: Experts talk climate change at Adirondack Park Agency meeting

The Adirondack Explorer digs into the critical role Paul Smith’s College and the Adirondack Watershed Institute play in monitoring Lyme disease in North Country ticks: As ticks and disease spread north, monitoring is threatened

The Adirondack Watershed Institute tested hundreds of private wells and found that over half of those which receive runoff from state roads contain concerning levels of road salt: As winter sets in, environmental groups keep road salt in spotlight

Come join us April 28th for the Paul Smith’s College March for Science!

Please come out to Paul Smith’s second March for Science. Last year it was a great success and this year
we want to make it even better.

Starting at 10 am the march will go down route 30 from Paul Smiths to the VIC. Bring a sign and some
good protest chants. Afterwards we encourage you to attend the 4th annual SAM Fest beginning at
11 am. This year’s theme is renewal.

For this to be a success we need people. This is a reminder for you to spread the word until the event. It
is happening Saturday, April 28th! Tell your friends, family, other students, students from your local
schools, and anyone else you can possibly think of.

It is important to keep in mind that this is a march for SCIENCE. We want to put forward a positive
message with a strong showing to start off the day.

The march is being organized by the Center for Campus Sustainability and the Outdoor Ed Program
Design & Planning class.

 

PSC Students Attend 2017 ADK Youth Climate Summit

On November 8th and 9th Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn will lead a team of students from Paul Smith’s College including, Jessie McCarty, Matthew Philips, Hannah Rion, Val Hoffman and Sebastian Huber, will be attending the 9th annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The summit began in 2008 after a student from a local area high school contacted the Director of Programs, Jen Kretzer, with the idea hold a conference for high school students to learn about climate change and strategies to lower their carbon footprint. What started as a small conference with about 5 schools, has now blossomed in to a huge event with over 200 students from 30 high schools and colleges.

The summit consists of two days of plenary speakers, hands on workshops, and some motivational activities. Using the information from those workshops, along with goals the schools set before going to the event, each school develops a Climate Action Plan. The climate action plan is a well developed plan for each school to take steps towards carbon neutrality. In a CAP each school sets Climate Neutrality goals for this year, next year, and the years to come. Since the first AYSC at the Wild Center, Youth Summits have since popped up all across the country and even the world. The Wild centers climate action program has even received recognition from the Whitehouse during the Obama administration.

Paul Smith’s college has attended and sponsored the AYCS since it started. Over the past few years the college has even sent plenary speakers as well as faculty that have hosted workshops. Curt Stager will be a plenary speaker at this years summit. Valarie Hoffman and Kate Glenn will be hosting a workshop. This year the Paul Smiths team hopes to accomplish several things, including the update our current Climate Action Plan so it better suits our school’s current sustainability needs. Including to sync the goals of the STARS reporting system with the updated CAP.  This year’s team will also be focusing on plans to redesign a new food waste management system.  Since the North Elba biodigester project was canceled, we need a new plan for our organic waste. We’re looking forward to another Adirondack Youth Climate Summit!!

 

 

 

Watts up with that? Borrow a Kill-A-Watt Meter from the PSC Library!

You can borrow more than just books from the PSC Library now! Kill-A-Watt Meters are now available at the PSC Library. So, are you low on beer money? Is your beer fridge empty and still plugged in? Have you ever wondered how much electricity your fridge uses? Or charging your phone takes? What about how much electricity is being used to sit back and watch Netflix all day? We have the solution to your questions. You can now borrow a Watt-Meter from the Paul Smith’s College Library and find out just how much electricity it takes to charge your phone! See how much beer money you could have if you just unplugged the fridge while it was empty! Watt meters are made available through the Library right from the front desk. We challenge you to save as much energy as you can and send us your results!

Residence Hall Energy Info Displayed on the Flat Screen in the Student Center

Check out the display on the flat screen in the Student Center this month- April 1st to April 22nd. We are running our fifth annual Energy Conservation Competition. Electric meters were purchased and installed in all 15 residence halls on campus in 2013 by student Jon Buyl. The goal of the energy meters was to show that changes in behavior can make a big difference in how much electricity is used on campus. This was a $43,000 project that was funded by the Campus Sustainability Fund.  Below is a description of what the colors represent. All color changes are based on BASELINE data that has been collected throughout the semester.

COLOR SCHEME:

Red: Legend will read “Worst Energy Use.”  This value is a KW/sqft value which is above the “High Energy Use” value (yellow).  This boils down to the worst performing buildings at any current time.  Students should react to this by working to shut off devices to lower their present demand and move them into the “yellow”

Yellow: Legend will read “High Energy Use.”  This value is a KW/sqft value which is above the neutral building load value (Brown) but not as high as those in red.  To summarize, these buildings are use more energy than the neutral and students should be working to move these buildings back down into the “Neutral Building Load” range.

Brown: Legend will read “Neutral Building Load.”  This value is a KW/sqft value which falls in an acceptable range (tbd) of energy use.  Students in this range should be concerned that they possibly could jump into the Yellow if additional load occurs.  They should be working to get below this range and turn their background Blue which would show low energy use in their building.

Blue: Legend will read “Low Energy Use.”  This value is a KW/sqft value which demonstrates the building is performing better than the average (Brown) building.  Students who live here, should be excited that they are doing their part in conserving energy, but should continue to push forward to get their building into the Green.

Green: Legend will read “Best Energy Use.”  This value is a KW/sqft value which demonstrates the building is performing in the best range possible.  Students who live in these buildings should continue to do what they are doing in their conservation efforts and should be proud that their buildings are in this range.  The buildings that spend the most time in this Green range will have the best chances to win the overall prize.

VALUES:

Total KWH- This value is Total KWH for the building.  This is a value that is accumulated continually.

KWH/sq/ft – This value is Total KWH divided by sq/ft per building.  This is a value that is accumulated continually.  This gives an overall equal playing field no matter the size of the building.  This will be the value which will continue to be accumulated over the month to award the overall winner of the Green Games Contest.

KW/sq/ft- This value is based off of present demand.  This value is the driver for the changing colors throughout the day.  This value is changed in intervals of every 15 minutes.  To sum this up, if the colors are going to change, the changes will occur once every 15 minutes based on the current usage in each building.