Drum roll! Draft Climate Action Plan debuts December 9

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

At City Council Tuesday night, Councilman Reynolds, who initiated plans for the CAP, reminded us of the important meeting coming up next week.

Full Description here

register here

The City of Bethlehem will host an online forum on Wednesday, December 9, to present a draft of the City’s Climate Action Plan. The Plan, which is being developed throughout 2020, will outline measures, policies, and strategies the City can support to reduce Bethlehem’s contribution to climate change and to adapt to the risks of a changing climate, such as extreme temperatures.

During the online forum, the City and consultants WSP and Nurture Nature Center will introduce the draft of Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, including its objectives, strategies, and proposed implementation approach. The Plan addresses a range of sectors, from buildings to transportation to education, with a focus on environmental justice considerations. Participants will then be asked to share their thoughts on what is included in the Plan. A period of public comment on the draft will follow the virtual meeting. All Bethlehem residents and businesses are encouraged to provide comments on the draft Plan, which will be posted on the City’s website.

Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan will establish local priorities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change while locally improving public health, protecting Bethlehem’s environment, and strengthening the city’s economy. The Plan will also include a climate hazard vulnerability assessment and outline measures, policies, and strategies the City, its businesses, and residents can take to reduce climate-related risks, such as increased flooding and extreme temperatures.

Contribute to the Climate Action Plan!

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Gadfly calls attention to Hannah Provost’s detailed article in Southsider about the second community meeting October 7 on the developing Climate Action Plan.

Gadfly called attention to this important meeting, but there is much more substantive information in Hannah’s article.

The key thing is that we now have the opportunity to provide input to the draft plan that will be presented at the next public meeting.

Gadfly encourages you to read Hannah’s article and to make your contributions.

Time is short.

Input will be accepted through Sunday, November 1.

Hannah Provost, “Bethlehem Seeks Community Response to Climate Action Plan.” Southsider, October 27, 2020.

“The City of Bethlehem and consultant WSP are actively constructing the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan (CAP), and currently are seeking community feedback about their proposal. On October 7th, 2020, the City hosted the second community-wide webinar during the design process. The October CAP community meeting presented the progress for the design of the CAP based on the previous community response, and further garnered community input, this time on more specific possibilities and strategies. In November, the design committee, lead by Jeff Irvine, for the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan will present a draft of the plan to the community in a third webinar, with an opportunity for further feedback. Ultimately, the full plan is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2021. This article captures the ongoing community dialogue about strategies for city wide environmental justice, and highlights further opportunities for the reader to have their voice heard and contribute to the construction of the Climate Action Plan.”

To identify climate hazards facing Bethlehem on our community map, visit map.bethlehemcap.org. (1-2 minutes)

To review the plan’s full list of draft strategies and indicate your priorities, visit survey.bethlehemcap.org (As little as 5-10 minutes)

Residents chatter about the Climate Action Plan around Gadfly’s water cooler

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

  • I believe that these large warehouses should be required to have electric plug-in stations for the semis that transport products so they don’t need to park and idle all over the place while drivers rest.
  • I’m thinking about large rental communities involving the amount of recyclable materials that I see hauled away from trash dumpsters. Any residential property over 4 units is considered commercial and triggers different recycling requirements. More metal, cardboard, plastic, newsprint, and flatboard gets trashed than anyone can imagine. Resident renters at the Townhouses where I live are completely lackadaisical about separating recycling from trash.
  • Those warehouses are a mixed blessing — and from a sustainability POV, almost a curse when you consider megatons of freight moving by truck right through the LV.
Anything you want to chatter about?

What is a CAP, and where are we in the development process?

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Consultant Jeff Irvine concisely describes what our CAP is and what its goals and benefits are (2 mins:)

Here Jeff indicates where we are in the process. We’re at the “tail end” — there will be another public meeting in late November or December and publication of the plan will come early in the new year (1 min.):

to be continued . . .

CAP meeting seeks citizen input

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Climate Action Plan

Indicate your priorities and comment on the plan’s proposed goals and strategies using this survey by November 1. If doing the survey in stages, be sure to click “submit,” or your work will not save till the next time.

Help identify climate-related hazards and impacts in your neighborhood and community, such as extreme heat and flooding, using this community map by November 1.

Yesterday’s second public meeting on our Climate Action Plan was aimed mainly at laying out strategies and gathering citizen input on them. Please note the two opportunities linked at the top of this page where you can provide that input by doing a survey and by mapping potential hot spots.

A recording of this program will no doubt be provided in timely fashion, but Gadfly is going to jump in and take a post or two to invite you to get involved if you weren’t in attendance or if you want to review.

Jeff Irvine, consultant, lays out the purpose of the meeting (one min.):

Councilman Willie Reynolds, the driving force behind our CAP, says a few words of welcome (2 mins.):

Matt Dorner, Deputy Director of Public Works, brings us up to date on the substantial good work that the City has already accomplished in the area of sustainability (4 mins.):

to be continued . . .

Pennsylvania doesn’t teach about climate change

Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Bethlehem is developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to address climate change by identifying policies and programs that will mitigate our contribution to climate change and help the city adapt to the effects of a changing climate, including extreme heat and flooding. The second public planning meeting for the CAP will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 7th. Mark your calendars. Gadfly will be posting details shortly.

Tip o’ the hat to the Touchstone Theatre’s “Speak out!” sustainability forum last night (part of Festival UnBound). Gadfly hopes to post here some of the student presentations from the forum in the near future.

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selections from Paul Muschick, “As wildfires rage, Pennsylvania and 3 other states don’t teach about climate change.” Morning Call, September 17, 2020.
(The headline for this article in the print edition Sept. 20 is “Pa. schools still don’t teach about climate change.”)

Pennsylvania is getting hotter and wetter. But in Pennsylvania schools, there’s no requirement that students learn that their actions are contributing to it by changing the climate.

The state is one of only four without science education standards to teach that people cause global warming, a problem that’s difficult to ignore as California wildfires burn out of control.

The goal is to implement the standards in the 2024-25 school year, to give schools time to develop curriculum.

The proposal still has to go through a public comment period, then needs approval from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, a five-member board appointed by the Legislature and governor.

There’s plenty of evidence [climate change is] real, and that something must be done.

A national climate assessment researched and written by 13 federal agencies in 2018 concluded: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”

Doing something to solve the problem starts with teaching people the facts. That’s why it’s important for climate change, and its causes, to be discussed in our schools.

The proposal advanced last week was drafted over the past year. Input was gathered from teachers, students, college professors, business and community leaders and others at 14 stakeholder meetings, including one in the Lehigh Valley that was held virtually in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The update is broad and covers many topics. Lessons about how people impact the environment was one of the top suggestions from those who offered input. Proposed standards include:

Kindergarten: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air and/or other living things in the local environment.

Grades 3 to 5: Describe human-caused changes that affect the immediate environment as well as other places, other people and future times.

Grades 6 to 8: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing human impact on the environment. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

Grades 9 to 12: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Climate change is a sticky subject under the Capitol dome in Harrisburg, where deniers have been invited to testify at legislative hearings. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some lawmakers tried to squash the plan.

Some Republican lawmakers say the program would cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars, with some of the costs being passed on to consumers, and plants and related businesses eventually closing, resulting in job losses.

There surely would be costs. But there’s also great cost to doing nothing.

Requiring students to be taught about global warming and climate change would be another big step. Maybe some bright young minds will come up with other ways to tackle the problem that older generations have ignored for too long.

It’s Sunday, September 20, do you know where your Climate Action Plan is? Yep!

June 17 Climate Action Plan meeting slides and transcription now available

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Gadfly knows that some of you tried to participate in the webinar but ran into
technical problems, Now you can catch up!

BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 5

  • First Public Virtual Meeting: June 17, 2020 – Completed
  • The first public meeting on the CAP was held as a webinar at two separate times on June 17 to maximize accessibility. If you missed the sessions, please see the materials below:
  • During the meeting, consultants WSP and Nurture Nature Center reviewed the projected impacts of climate change on Bethlehem, introduced the climate action planning process, and provided information about actions the City has already taken to address climate change. Participants were then asked to share their thoughts on the goals and priorities they hope to see reflected in the plan.
  • Additional public meetings are planned for September and November. Details will be published here when these dates are announced.

It’s Friday, June 26, do you know where your Climate Action Plan is? Yep!

Impressive Climate Action Plan webinar

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Gadfly:

I attended the [Climate Action Plan] webinar yesterday [Wednesday] at noon and was very impressed with the thoroughness of the presentation (and the presenters).

The first portion clearly elucidated the factual evidence that the climate is warming at a rapid rate, that human activity is the primary cause, that we can document the changes that are already occurring, and that the future effects will be even more dramatic: no winter sports in PA (Bethlehem’s climate will be like that of Richmond, VA, today); more ticks and other disease-bearing pests; loss of some agricultural crops (like apples); more heavy rainstorms and thus flooding.

That the team is serious about creating an action plan to decrease the worst-case scenarios if we do nothing to minimize the negative effects of global warming that we are stuck with and to delineating means for us to adjust and be resilient to the effects we cannot minimize was very clear.

They are interested in including ALL aspects of the Bethlehem community (I guess except for those who deny the obvious science-based conclusions) in both creating the plan and carrying it out.

Is the process slow and somewhat cumbersome? Yes, it is, but it also seeks to emerge with the greatest chances of successful implementation because of the broad input.

I look forward to the next steps and applaud my community for taking such an important step!

J. D. Smullen

The first public meeting on the Climate Action Plan

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Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan
BethlehemCAP.org

CITY OF BETHLEHEM
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT PLAN FOR CLIMATE ACTION PLAN DEVELOPMENT

Pandemic — George Floyd — Rayshard Brooks — Global Warming

So many crises buffeting us these days. Shell-shocking. Easy to lose sight of the two virtual public meetings hosted yesterday by Bethlehem-based engineering firm WSP and science-based community center Nurture Nature Center (NNC), located in Easton, who were selected as consultants to develop the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan. We expect that the slides from yesterday’s meetings and perhaps some audio/video will eventually be available on the Bethlehem CAP web site.

CAP 2

WSP will lead the CAP project and provide world-class subject-matter climate and engineering expertise. WSP is the subject-matter expert. WSP will work with NNC to advise the City on strategies related to communicating progress with the project process and gathering public input. NNC will develop engagement strategies. NNC looks like the communication expert. Public engagement seems to be a key element in the development of the CAP.

CAP 3

According to the tentative schedule (already modified) the final CAP is due during the first quarter of 2021. Looks like the first meeting of the working group (CAP WG) has already occurred. At least two more public meetings are planned.

CAP 4

As mentioned above, we hope that some audio/video from the public meetings will eventually be provided on the Bethlehem CAP web site. But, for now, your technologically challenged Gadfly can only provide this awful audio of the meeting hosts describing the “What is in a  Climate Action Plan?” slide above. You will need to vacuum out your ear wax, turn your speaker to 100%, and glue yourself to the speaker. The sound gets a little better after the first minute or two but not much. On the other hand, you might want to just skip the whole damn lousy audio. Sorry.

Gadfly would love to hear from people who are actively involved in the climate movement and, especially, who attended the virtual meeting. Those who attended the meeting might tell us what they contributed to the discussion section of the session.

He knows you’re out there!

Tip o’ the hat to Councilman Reynolds, the Environmental Advisory Council, Mayor Hatlo 2Donchez, Michael Alkhal, and, of course, many others on the City staff for getting us to this significant point.

Public needed at Climate Action Plan meeting Wednesday

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Bethlehem Climate Action Plan Public Virtual Meeting

Virtual Meeting Registration

CAP 1

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from Christina Tatu, “Bethlehem asks for public’s input on Climate Action Plan.” June 15, 2020.

Once known for Bethlehem Steel, with its towering blast furnaces that sent plumes of smoke into the sky and a coating of ore dust into surrounding neighborhoods, Bethlehem has done a lot to clean up its image.

Over the last 15 years, the city has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40%, and by the end of the year officials are hoping to have a climate action plan to make Bethlehem even more environmentally friendly. There will be two forums Wednesday to gather public input for the plan, which was proposed by Councilman J. William Reynolds in 2017.

When finished, the plan will outline policies the city can support to reduce its carbon footprint, or the amount of greenhouse gasses it produces that cause climate change. The plan will also analyze hazards the city could face from climate change, such as increased temperatures and flooding, and it will outline measures local businesses and residents can take to reduce their environmental impact.

Wednesday’s forums will include information about what the city has done to reduce emissions and will ask residents what they see as the most important goals going forward, said Jeffrey Irvine, a project director with WSP.

A group of stakeholders has also been discussing what the goals should be, Reynolds said. The group of about 50 includes members of the public, representatives from Moravian College and Lehigh University, local business owners and environmental proponents.

Proposals include encouraging restaurants to limit foam and plastic packaging with takeout orders and using local ingredients, said Lynn Rothman, chairwoman of Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council, who is also a stakeholder.

The group also wants to see the city hire a sustainability officer to help implement any environmental policies that are developed.

The City reminds us of the June 17 Climate Action Plan forum

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Easy to forget about this with all the drama going on.
But this is historic! Don’t miss!

Press Release:

June 9, 2020 

City of Bethlehem to host first public forum on Climate Action Plan Online

Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that the City of Bethlehem will host an online forum on Wednesday, June 17, to inform the public of the development of the City’s Climate Action Plan. The Plan, which will be developed throughout 2020, will outline measures, policies, and strategies the City can support to reduce Bethlehem’s contribution to climate change and to adapt to the risks of a changing climate, such as extreme temperatures.

To maximize accessibility, the 90-minute virtual meeting will be held twice, at both 12:00pm and 5:30pm. Each session will cover the same content. Members of the public are encouraged to register for the session that is most convenient for them at the following web address: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan will establish local priorities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change while locally improving public health, protecting Bethlehem’s environment, and strengthening the city’s economy. The Plan will also include a climate hazard vulnerability assessment and outline measures, policies, and strategies the City, its businesses, and residents can take to reduce climate-related risks, such as increased flooding and extreme temperatures.

At the June 17 forum the City and consultants WSP and Nurture Nature Center will introduce the climate action planning process and provide information about actions the City has already taken to address climate change. Participants will then be asked to share their thoughts on the goals and priorities they hope to see reflected in the plan which will be released in early 2021.

The public can learn more about the planning process and provide additional input via a short online survey at the following web address: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Public-Works/Climate-Action-Plan

The City of Bethlehem has a long history of supporting climate action and leading by example. The Mayor and City Council have committed Bethlehem to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, the We Are Still In initiative, the Sierra Club’s Mayors For 100% Clean Energy, and the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. The City government has also implemented numerous greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, ranging from energy efficiency to renewable energy purchasing, which have reduced the City’s contribution to climate change from municipal operations 37 percent from 2005 to 2017.

Bethlehem City Council unanimously passed a Resolution endorsing the creation of a Climate Action Plan. Mayor Donchez’s administration, through the Public Works department, issued a request for proposals for climate action plan preparation in June 2019. Bethlehem-based engineering firm WSP and science-based community center Nurture Nature Center, located in Easton, were selected as consultants to develop the Plan in 2020 with input from Bethlehem’s public, businesses and stakeholders.

Reminder! “What should Climate Action look like in Bethlehem?” Calendar alert! June 17

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BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 1

register:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

survey:
English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUs6b4mVs73mq4rKHLtnH7VTKyZzNXvRdt_T-ynnJKqjvvTA/viewform
Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaBqqi6eanUm-rpzEoGSD_FbbMa4aAiBi0yxox4Hl0rAs2dQ/viewform

Community gardens need infrastructure from the City and a good manager

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Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

ref: Mary Toulouse’s pitch for a planning process to develop community gardens.

Gadfly:

I have tried to keep various community gardens afloat on the south side for a number of years. Interest and use of the gardens waxes and wanes over time, but they often face basic infrastructural challenges that inhibit success.

For instance, many years ago when Alice Gast was president of Lehigh University, she built a community garden in the MLK Park on Carleton Ave. However, no one ever set up a water spigot for this garden, so we have had an ongoing challenge of sustaining water there.

A community garden should not be set up without a source of water. We put water totes in the garden, but then they must be filled by the city, which is difficult to coordinate. If a nearby home owner fills them, then their monthly bill for sewage treatment increases, because the provider thinks all that water going into the tote is going down the house’s drain.

Another problem is ongoing maintenance. The city has not  been willing to manage the weeds or otherwise take care of a community garden on public property, even when they will let people garden there–I’m sure you can imagine how large that task might become if gardeners started expecting city workers to take care of their garden beds.

Consequently, the gardens need people who are committed to not just growing their own food but taking care of the collective space. This has been a challenge at times. But I think a reliable source of water at a garden would draw more support from community members, so the development of infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with increasing expectations for gardeners to take care of their collective space.

When the Maze garden was destroyed, a group of students at Lehigh University were successful in working with Mayor Donchez to develop a section of the Greenway between Taylor and Webster streets, which the students used for gardening and cooking programing they organized for the kids in the Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club. They planted fruit trees and installed raised beds and used the garden until Boys and Girls Club was moved. At that point, the garden was too far away to use in the same way.

This section of the Greenway is now maintained by a group of volunteers at Lehigh University and also by a local group that takes care of the beautiful Native Plants Garden that is also on that section of the Greenway. Because of the centrality of the location and the public nature of it, we have never been able to make this a garden where community members can grow their own food. That probably would require fencing and an area that does not have so much traffic, so the Greenway is not the best location.

There are other areas for gardens. For some time there were beds up at Ullman Park, but this garden suffered from a lack of infrastructure and consequently a lack of commitment.

For this reason, as mentioned above, I have come to believe that creating the right infrastructure is the most important part of a garden’s success. There must be water, fencing, beds, and someone who can ensure certain tasks are handled, such as compost delivery, waste removal, path maintenance, weed control, etc.

It’s possible that a motivated community group can do these latter tasks on their own, if the water and fencing is there, but I don’t think it’s wise to expect this when gardeners have to lug their own water to their beds and fight off pests that eat their food.

Other crucial resources needed are tools and information and education. But it might make more sense for people to use these things to garden in their own backyards (if they have a backyard) rather than on city property, where the water remains a limiting factor.

In general, gardens are great if the city commits to providing some infrastructure and you have a tyrannical manager who also happens to be a good community leader, which is not easy to find.

CSAs (Community-supported Agriculture) may be a better way to feed people than gardens, but that’s another conversation.
Let’s keep this conversation going. I think that in certain places gardens can really thrive and become meaningful to the community.

Breena

Here we go! “What should Climate Action look like in Bethlehem?” Calendar alert! June 17

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BethlehemCAP.org

CAP 1

register:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/7859566807906925067

survey:
English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUs6b4mVs73mq4rKHLtnH7VTKyZzNXvRdt_T-ynnJKqjvvTA/viewform
Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaBqqi6eanUm-rpzEoGSD_FbbMa4aAiBi0yxox4Hl0rAs2dQ/viewform

“The farmers are concerned about having enough affordable food for the community”

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Video: City Council meeting May 19
begin min. 28:50

Apropos of her discussion about providing healthy local food at the Rose Garden Farmers’ Market, at the end of her public comment presentation at City Council last Tuesday Mary Toulouse made a pitch for a planning process to develop community gardens:

  • Food pantries are looking for food.
  • Farmers are experiencing the destructive effects of climate change.
  • “The farmers are concerned about having enough affordable food for the community.”
  • Some council members spoke about having community gardens at the last meeting.
  • Community gardens in city parks can help with the food situation.
  • There’s a community park in Battery Park, New York City.
  • There’s a community park in the Paris Tuileries garden in front of the Louvre.
  • A successful community garden needs planning, long-term planning, the kind that might be done by an Action Group or the Environmental Advisory Council.
  • But short-term perhaps the City could designate some sites.

Gadfly knew it was a crazy idea, but he wished the community garden at 3rd and New before the Zest building had not only been allowed to remain but was enhanced. Think of the message — the different message — that a community garden at the gateway to the Southside would say about the values in our town.

Gadfly remembers sitting in on a Southside 2020 meeting last year at which the large number of small community gardens on the southside was discussed. Can anybody fill in information on this? Are residents already highly engaged in this kind of activity?

What do you think of community gardens in city parks?

A Special Earth Day Event at Lehigh U

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A Special Earth Day Event:

Please join us for Lehigh University’s Virtual Earth Day celebration. The keynote speaker for a special webinar will be Joseph Robertson, Global Strategy Director for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He will discuss “Integrative Geopolitics: Climate Resilience in a Post-COVID World.”

The webinar will be on Wednesday, April 22 at 4:30pm.

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and people across the globe will be celebrating the day through the international theme of climate action. If you have any questions, please contact sustainability@lehigh.edu.

Join the virtual webinar here:

https://eventscalendar.lehigh.edu/event/earth_day_speaker_integrativegeopolitics_climate_resilience_in_a_post-covid_world#.Xp28RKtKit9

Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act resolution up for vote tomorrow

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Of interest at Tuesday’s Council meeting: resolution to be voted on.

Support Resolution –Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019
Councilman Reynolds

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT:

RESOLVED, that the City of Bethlehem, PA urges the United States Congress to enact without delay the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, FER, 763; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bethlehem City Council expresses gratitude to our
Congressional Representative Susan Wild for having become a co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, HR763; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bethlehem City Council urges other Pennsylvania
municipalities to similarly call on their federal Representatives to co-sponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, HR 763, (other than those in Congressional Districts PAO3, PAO4, and PAO8 who are already co-sponsors) and encourage its passage by the US Congress.

Promoting sustainability!

A note from Peter Crownfield quietly referenced the publication of “Sustainable Lehigh Valley” (an annual publication that seems to go back at least as far as 2004) by Alliance for Sustainable Communities Lehigh Valley.

First time Gadfly was aware of this publication. Looks full of valuable information. Gadfly looks forward to perusal and thinks followers might as well.

Alliance

Download the 2020 “Sustainable Lehigh Valley” here.

Recent sustainability projects

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Gadfly:

Most readers probably are already aware, of course, that Bethlehem EAC’s ban [of single-use plastic bags] was banned by the state, part of the legislature’s ongoing practice of protecting business interests — no matter how much harm is done to people, wildlife, and the environment.

Those with an interest in such things might also want to take a look at these recent internship projects:

• Sustainability for Cafés and Restaurants [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/sustainability-for-cafes-and-restaurants]
• Climate Action Planning for the Lehigh Valley [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/climate-action-planning]

(More sustainability-related projects at: www.sustainlv.org/act-locally/internships-with-the-alliance/reports-posters-articles-by-interns)

Peter Crownfield

Moravian Academy’s Green Team on Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

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This essay by Moravian Academy’s Green Team was generated as part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum and is part of an ongoing initiative to stir our community, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, to think creatively about how we can make our home, our community, a better place to live. It is a challenge we can only successfully accomplish together.

Bill George, Touchstone Theatre

Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

One issue that is prevalent in our community is single-use plastic pollution and waste, especially surrounding grocery store policies relating to food preservation. Our perspective on the issue is that our community could do a better job of cutting down on plastic use. This would help the environment by limiting the exposure to pollution from the plastic itself and the chemicals used in or on plastic. Is it possible to completely stop using plastic? In today’s world, maybe not, but it is not only possible but plausible to limit the use of plastic and to use more ecologically friendly options whenever possible. Imagine walking into a grocery store and going to the produce section to get some fruit. When you get there, there is plastic everywhere. Plastic bags to hold the fruit, prepackaged vegetables wrapped in plastic, even bundles of bananas held together by and wrapped in plastic. Why is so much plastic packaging necessary in our grocery stores when nature has already provided a natural package? There are such excessive uses of plastic in our community as wrapping bananas together even though they already have peels, unpeeling an orange and packaging it in plastic, or giving out single-use plastic bags in which to carry produce. These can contribute significantly to plastic pollution that can severely harm our environment.

In order to cut down on our community’s plastic use, grocery stores could provide more environmentally friendly options. These options could include having giveaways of free reusable bags for store members, charging extra for using a plastic bag (something that is already done in some places in the U.S.), using paper bags at the checkout instead, having recycling centers in the store for used plastic bags, and giving customers who bring in their own bags or pre-approved containers a small discount from their purchase. U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal are both members of our government that have been pushing for legislation that addresses our country’s plastic pollution problems, specifically in relation to marine, waterway, and landscape pollution. Also, organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition seek to end plastic pollution through education of the public and encouragement of people to be more aware of their plastic consumer consumption as well as to encourage eateries worldwide to end their use of single-use plastics. The Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council also submitted a proposal to the City Council in February of 2019 asking the city of Bethlehem to place a ban on all single-use plastic bags and to enforce a ten-cent fee on paper bags.

One reason plastic pollution has become a big problem is because it poses a chemical danger to our environment. When plastic bags are left undisposed of in waterways like rivers, streams, or the ocean, they can leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil and damage surrounding plants and animals, affecting whole ecosystems and the water we drink. Additionally, in marine environments specifically, the plastic in our water can release odors that mimic those of some species’ food. This draws wildlife towards pollution and can cause entanglement and consumption, killing the animals. The microplastics consumed by organisms at the bottom of the food chain accumulate all the way to the top, resulting in our personal consumption of about 120-140 plastic particles a day.

A resolution to the plastic pollution problem requires action from all levels of our community from personal to corporate. We each must take personal responsibility for our contribution towards plastic use and consumption. By being increasingly aware of what we are purchasing and decreasing our use of single-use plastics by using reusable bags, jars, or containers, we can hope to reduce overall single-use plastic waste. We can also reduce our plastic use by buying from local and small business establishments to avoid large-scale plastic use from the shipping and packaging industries. Individuals can also use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones.

On a business level, it is necessary to create anti-plastic policies to reinforce the benefits of sustainable action. In grocery stores, deterrents should be implemented against the use of plastic by utilizing a baseline monetary penalty for the use of plastic bags. To reduce plastic use, grocery stores can also invest in bulk food sections where the consumer can bring reusable containers or bags to get what they need. This method of purchase also decreases food waste since consumers only take what they need because the price would be based on weight and not what is cheaper, whether it be more than they need or not. Additionally, we believe that grocery stores should advertise and promote proper recycling and anti-food waste practices to the wider community. For example, stores should encourage the use of plastic bag recycling programs to which most people already have access by providing information about their locations, purposes, and benefits. At restaurants an effort should be made to not offer plastic straws or to, instead, offer a biodegradable or reusable option such as paper or metal straws. Restaurants can also replace styrofoam or plastic take-out containers with biodegradable containers.

Not only are personal responsibility and improved corporate policies necessary to reach a true solution but so is reaching out to our local legislatures and such government officials as Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Jr., to implement laws to protect our environment, health, and natural resources. We must appeal to local governmental bodies like the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council to promote and to continue to protect the environment with legislation like their single plastic reducing ordinance created by the Waste Reduction Task Force. It all starts with voting for those who endorse environmental policies and limiting our plastic production or use.

Green Team
Moravian Academy
Advisor: Cole Wisdo

This essay is also posted on the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council Facebook page March 26.

Climate Action Plan: “This is a big deal”

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Climate Action Plan logo

In a surprise addition to Monday’s City Council agenda — so surprising it occasioned a procedural question — City Council voted on and approved a contract with a firm to develop our Climate Action Plan.

An exuberant Councilman Reynolds, who — working with the Administration, the Environmental Advisory Council, and others — brought us to this moment, called the plan a “big deal.”

Which it certainly is!

Kudos all around.

Beautiful Reynolds’ words about the plan we love to hear:

  • City-wide energy reduction plan
  • Sustainability initiative
  • An Education piece
  • Connection to social justice
  • Discussion of pedestrian bridge
  • Discussion of Food Co-Op
  • Discussion of walkability

It’s Wednesday January 8, 2020. Do you know where your Climate Action Plan is?

Yes!

Activating activism at Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum

logo 76th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre logo

“The whole UnBound festival was about the future of Bethlehem and how can
we envision what we want to see Bethlehem in the future,
and who more important than the young people to talk to about that.”

Paul Pierpoint, Sustainability Forum Organizer

video by Thomas Braun

You thought I was done with Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound, didn’t you?

Naaa, the Gadfly is going for a round 100 posts.

One Festival event that Gadfly didn’t get to was the Sustainability Forum (though Kathy Fox posted about it), and he is just now catching up on it.

And catching up big time — he is in the pleasurable process of reading 180 essays by high school students passionately concerned with the environment and the future of Bethlehem.

(English profs have a big appetite when students are serving up such deliciously thoughtful text.)

Students from Freedom, Liberty, Bethlehem Catholic, and Moravian Academy.

Writing about such pressing contemporary and local issues as climate change; access to safe, nutritious food; local air quality; stream and ground water quality; drinking water quality; health and fitness; alternative transportation; green space preservation; housing for a growing population; and preservation of pollinators.

Gadfly hopes he will be able to bring some moving examples of this activist writing to you in these pages.

For now enjoy the video sampler about Freedom’s participation in the project.

After writing their essays, many of the students participated in a Town Hall on Lehigh’s campus.

Here is a look at the ambitious full assignment set before these students by Touchstone through such home high school faculty as Freedom’s Donna Roman, John Wallaesa, and George Ziegler, and Liberty’s Lisa Draper and Anthony Markovich:

Town Hall Sustainability project — high school

When it looks to some of us of riper age as if the world surrounds us with seemingly insurmountable problems, it pays to look through the eyes of the young:

“If one person just stands up to make a change, others will too . . .
It only takes one person to make a drastic change.”

Staci Scheetz, Liberty High School