Climate Comes Home
Waiting for the Next Store
The FEMA people were on Cape Cod today (August 5th) to provide training for emergency preparedness. A very good class. I encourage Sierra Club folks to enroll in these programs. Free. Open to all. Good opportunity to meet with emergency services workers, town planners, and others, who face the here-and-now impact of climate change. Environmentalists have the opportunity to raise environmental concerns.At this point, I have the uneasy feeling that we’re waiting for the next hurricane Katrina or Sandy to appear. Maybe August, but, maybe, October. Maybe Texas, or, possibly, Rhode Island or Jamaica. This is what it’s like to live in the world of climate change. One difficulty follows another. The storms that were “once in a hundred years” are becoming “once in every ten years.” The impact of summer storms is greater.Bit of irony: Some of the people who I meet in emergency preparedness classes are surprisingly conservative. Some of them may even lean towards the Tea Party. They don’t agree with the Sierra Club on a long list of topics, and they may even qualify as “climate change skeptics,” but they know that something is happening in the environment and they want to be prepared for future problems. You may ask, “How do we bring these folks into the climate change discussion?”
However: I suggest that, in some ways, they’re already involved. Think about the first responders, and the second responders, who respond to floods, hurricanes, oil spills, wildfires, etc. You’ll find emergency services teams in every region.On August 17th, our Sierra Club group will participate in Cape Cod’s first “hurricane preparedness fair.” We’ll talk with local journalists and we’ll distribute lots of Sierra Club literature on health and safety issues. The Red Cross will collect blood for future emergencies. If you’re in the area and you would like to contribute to the Falmouth, Massachusetts, blood collection, please call the Red Cross.Telephone: 1-800-733-2767.What’s happening in your region during “the long, hot summer”?(submitted by Bob Murphy, who is the chairman of the Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group. in Massachusetts.)
ANOTHER LONG, HOT SUMMER
It’s the middle of July and July, 2013, looks and feels like last July and the July before that. One difficult summer after another. In the Northeast, we’re experiencing a lot of heat and humidity. Hospital emergency rooms and clinics are crowded with people who are suffering through the hot weather. Oklahoma has its tornadoes and Arizona has its wildfires. On the coast of New England, we’re waiting for the height of hurricane season. President Obama delivered a nice speech, a few weeks ago, about climate change. Some environmentalists liked the speech, and some environmentalists were indifferent, but, at this point, the Obama speech is already part of history. The President of the United States said a few words and it was big news for several days. If senior citizens die from the effects of extreme heat, or if children suffer because of increased levels of air pollution, or if the drought continues in five rural states, that’s not “news," as far as most Americans concerned. This is how we live during an era of climate change.In this situation, keep asking the question, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?"Recently, a billionaire announced that he wants to build a land-based transportation system that will move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes. Some environmentalists have already announced that this is “big news." So, there’s lots of excitement for the moment, although I don’t know what to do with the announcement. Maybe, in some way, the proposed transportation system will reduce the use of fossil fuel, and, in some way, maybe the reduction of fossil fuel use will reduce the climate change problem. Maybe. Might happen. Who knows?As you move into difficult days, keep asking, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?"This summer, the Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group is trying to expand some of its emergency services programs. Our group’s resources are very limited. Still, we’ve been involved in a few events since early June and we have more activities scheduled for the weeks ahead.JUNE 14th: We provided some volunteers and Sierra Club literature for a health and safety fair at Falmouth Hospital.FOURTH OF JULY: Sierra Club members assisted with a health and safety display at a Native American pow wow on Cape Cod. The Wampanoag chief thanked us for “helping the elders."AUGUST 17th: We’ll be working with community and religious groups to produce an “environmental health and safety fair" on Cape Cod. As part of this event, there will be a Red Cross blood drive. Lots of Sierra Club literature will be distributed about climate change, chemicals of emerging concern, population issues, etc. Emergency preparedness and access issues will receive much attention.Some other activities are scheduled. It’s not a big effort but we try to be helpful in the here and now.I’ve started CERT training. I helped with Cape Cod’s emergency shelters during the big storm in February. Some additional training will be useful. Many Sierra Club leaders already have first aid training and many know how to manage camps. Still, it’s good to be in contact with emergency services teams. The emergency services people like to do background checks, certification, etc., while preparing for future difficulties.(submitted by Bob Murphy, chair, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club)
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE & CLIMATE CHANGE
The Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group works on climate change issues with congregations and community groups. Lots of emphasis on human rights concerns. Our group helped to develop a PowerPoint presentation on May 1st for environmental justice advocates in New England. Since then, the program has been revised a bit and it has been used in several forums.
The emphasis is on connecting with groups - including minorities, senior citizens, religious organizations, health care people, etc.. - that have NOT been active in climate change discussions in the past. Lots of emphasis on things like the Americans With Disabilities Act. Polar bears are never referenced. The Sierra Club is mentioned in the credits at the end of the program.This presentation is being used as the basis for environmental justice programs in New England during the summer months. We’ll be discussing things like heat waves, droughts, massive power failures, hurricanes, extreme weather events, etc. “Here and now” stuff.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/78768832/Cape%20Cod%20In%20Harms%20Way%205-2013%20Rev.ppsx(submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club.)
Sierra Club -The following note from President Obama has arrived. As the climate change problem...
Sierra Club -The following note from President Obama has arrived. As the climate change problem develops, perhaps notes like this one will become routine at the start of hurricane season. Although it’s significant that the President of the United States doesn’t use the term “climate change” in his message. One tragedy follows another - droughts, heat waves, extreme weather events, etc. - but the White House doesn’t acknowledge any pattern or cause.I suggest two missions for the Sierra Club. First: Respond to immediate problems. Try to be helpful as the climate change problem comes home.Second: Remind national leaders - and our fellow citizens - that there’s a need for some long-term strategies in response to climate change. Don’t be afraid of the term “climate change.” (submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club.)
PREDICTIONS FOR 2013 HURRICANE SEASON
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has presented its predictions for the 2013 hurricane season. “An unusually wild season is predicted,” commented one government spokesperson. The NOAA people claim to be 70% accurate in predicting the intensity of the season.
With this information in mind, citizens can do one of two things. We can wait for problems to arrive and, then, maybe, we can react. As an alternative, we can make some preparations during the weeks ahead. We can ask, “How can we be helpful?” What’s needed today?A new kind of climate change discussion is needed and I hope that Sierra Club groups will be leaders in the new discussion. Waiting for problems to develop - and, then, saying “blame it on climate change” - isn’t helpful. We can do more and better to help our neighbors. In the process, we’ll demonstrate our concern for our communities and - who knows? - maybe we’ll build some new alliances to solve the climate change problem.(submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Sierra Club Cape Cod and Islands Group, in Massachusetts.)