much more education of the public needs to be done (6)

(6th in a series about Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan)

Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.  Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health. 

Thank you, Gadfly, for posting parts of the audio for the CAP update. I was unable to attend and appreciate your efforts in educating myself and others on the happenings in Bethlehem. Councilwoman Van Wirt bought an excellent point on the subject of electric city vehicles. I’ve been to a couple of presentations where it was explained that a city could pay for an expert to analyze their fleets and make recommendations to reduce the costs by switching to electric vehicles, and the changes would pay for themselves in a timely manner and then save money for the city — less maintenance, less fossil fuels, etc. An RFP for an energy consultant with specific expertise this year and implementation of a plan to transition next year sounds good to me. I’ve written to PPL to ask when are they going to start building infrastructure for electric vehicles. Citywide electric vehicle charging stations are necessary as many residents are like me and live on a small property with no garage. I keep hearing the old adage, it is like the chicken or the egg, which comes first – people buying electric vehicles or building the infrastructure. Some money the state has received from the Volkswagen settlement should be spent on modernizing our infrastructure to include EV charging stations. As for pervious surfaces – could the city recommend this alternative to the public when they are applying for permits to resurface driveways, replace sidewalks, patios, and seek to get contractors onboard? I think much more education of the public needs to be done.


The December 4 CAP meeting (5)

(5th in a series about Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan)

 “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

With that sketch of past doin’s over, Gadfly brings you to the December 4 meeting of the Human Resources and Environment Committee in Town Hall chaired by CM Reynolds, with CPs Callahan, Negron, Van Wirt, and a “green” crowd attending.

Gadfly provides here audio of the meeting.

CM Reynolds’s presentation was keyed to the four pages of a PowerPoint entitled COB Climate Action Plan 12-4-18:

CM Callahan spoke of the need to put pressure on national leaders and praised the high quality of our water supply:

CW Van Wirt asked questions about local industry commitment to providing data, the involvement of the EAC, City progress on energy-saving lighting, and the status of thought about electric vehicle. Head of Public Works Mike Alkhal provided information.

CW Negron expressed confidence in industry participation, the shift in the recycling department to sustainability concerns, and local things like grocery stores asking us to bring bags.

Brian Hillard talked about the role of the EAC.

Peg Church, Peter Crownfield, and Mike (?) asked questions about impervious surfaces, availability of records, and rain barrels (!)


It’s Friday, December 14, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

EAC and CAP (4)

(4th in a series about Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan)

Note: see “our” Kathy Fox (“We can work for an improved environment.” Morning Call, December 9, 2018), a member of Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), reporting on the recent CAP progress meeting as well as also calling attention, as we noted Martha Christine did in our last post, to The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 7173) , which will “drive down America’s carbon pollution and bring climate change under control, while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity.”

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil.
The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.”
(Kurt Vonnegut)

If we are going to have a Bethlehem Climate Action Plan, we are going to need some (a lot of) organized activity.

Gadfly is just happily reviewing a slice of the past history of the planning for a CAP plan to give a sense of motion and progress – and a sense of faith that good might triumph over evil.

In the last post, Gadfly brought us up to the formation of a CAP working group, which, as CM Reynolds outlined in his mission statement included in that same post, would include “representatives of the Administration, City Council, the Environmental Advisory Council, and members of the community.”

So, linked here you will find “City of Bethlehem – Climate Action Plan,” an April information document from the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), chaired by Lynn Rothman, a wonderful group that Gadfly has been “auditing” (which means he doesn’t have to take the exam) for several months.

The EAC looks like it will be the key partner for CM Reynolds, and, for the record, the EAC “consists of Bethlehem citizens appointed by City Council to provide recommendations to City Council and the Administration on environmental issues relating to the City.”

The EAC web page will fill you in on members and their activities and includes a copy of the Green Bethlehem Initiative Survey done as part of CAP planning.

A key part of the EAC’s information document is a timeline showing proposed activities for 2018-2019.

There’s nothing like a timeline to keep you organized, to keep you honest.

The EAC meets the first Thursday of every month, 7PM, at Illick’s Mill. Visitors welcome. I just dropped in one night and have never left.

Coming up to the present. Info on the Dec 4 meeting coming next–

It’s Wednesday, December 12, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

A plan to get a plan (3)

(3rd in a series of posts on the Climate Action Plan)

Note: see “our” Martha Christine (“Bipartisan efforts in Congress may actually address climate change.” Morning Call, December 9, 2018) calling attention to a bipartisan bill designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and asking us to advise Susan Wild that we need her support.

Gadfly misspoke in his first post on a Bethlehem CAP t’other day. We don’t actually have a Climate Action Plan yet. But we have a plan to get a plan. And soon.

Gadfly is not going to jump directly into CM Reynolds’ December 4 CAP meeting about getting that plan.

Because he wants us to think first about the idea of a “plan” in general. About the importance of planning. About the need for a planner or planners.

In Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (anybody read him anymore? Sigh) says, ‘There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.

Sounds trite, but we must know that we can do something good (act) about, say, the evil greenhouse gas emissions if we plan, if we organize.

Since Gadfly went into business he meets people who say, forget it, Gadfly, what does it all matter, nothing happens. People who are down on the possibility of good things happening, of important things getting done.

I’m thinking of one follower in particular. You know who you are.

So Gadfly would like to create a sense of optimism by stepping back in time 2-3 years to the genesis of CM Reynolds’ CAP initiative. To see the vision at the beginning or near the beginning (probably deeper roots than this) and follow the developing steps of the plan to achieve the CAP.

Things have been happening. We need to sense the motion. To see the “there” that got us “here.” To feel momentum moving us forward. And therefore to feel good.

So here from maybe a couple years ago is an early Reynolds’ articulation of what a CAP is all about that helped get the ball rolling. Reynolds outlines a “process” (plan) that includes the formation of a working group.

William Reynolds
Bethlehem City Council President
from “Bethlehem 2017”

Climate Action Plan

In August of 2006, Mayor John Callahan signed the Three City Climate Protection Agreement with the Mayors of Allentown and Easton. The agreement established a goal of reducing the City’s operational carbon footprint 20% by 2012. Through the excellent work of the Callahan Administration and the employees of the City of Bethlehem, the City actually exceeded its goal and reduced its sum of greenhouse gas emissions by 28% during that time period.

On February 18, 2014 and August 28, 2014, memos were sent to Mayor Donchez asking the City Administration to establish new goals relating to reducing the City of Bethlehem’s carbon footprint.  Our Parks and Public Property Director, Ralph Carp, sent memos on March 18, 2014, September 5, 2014, and February 13, 2015 outlining the impressive efforts that Bethlehem has taken in the past 10 years to reduce its carbon footprint and increase our energy efficiency.   These efforts include the completion and implementation of $5,000,000 in energy conservation measures that will continue to produce financial and environmental dividends in the coming years.

At the February 17, 2015, Human Resources and Environment Committee Hearing, multiple members of Council indicated to Mr. Carp that they were looking for a formal presentation of goals (future goal of GHG reduction, etc.) or a cooperative agreement to be signed between the Administration and City Council setting benchmarks/goals for the future.  No formal goals or cooperative agreement have been introduced or enacted into. Resolution #1 outlines a process by which the City of Bethlehem will enact and follow a Climate Action Plan for the City of Bethlehem.

Many cities throughout the country have also set up programs, policies, goals, etc. for their whole cities, not just their governmental operations. Once we are able to collect our data, set goals, and formalize a City of Bethlehem internal agreement, it would be wise to turn outside of City of Bethlehem operations. We need to take a look at how we can share the practices and policies that we use across the whole City with our businesses, community institutions, and residents.

What is a Climate Action Plan? Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a set of strategies intended to guide efforts for climate change mitigation. Hundreds of small, mid, and large cities across the country have created CAPs as the threat of climate change has appeared to have increased in recent years. How does a city create a CAP? A city collects their data on greenhouse gas emissions and plans accordingly on ways to reduce those emissions. Establishing a new goal of GHG reduction, departmental energy reduction plans, and establishing data collection procedures to allow businesses and community members to monitor their carbon footprint are all common aspects of Climate Action Plans.

Why do we need to formally set up a Climate Action Plan? For many reasons, it is important that we set up a structure to continue to monitor and achieve energy efficiency goals for the City of Bethlehem. Formal goals allow the City of Bethlehem an opportunity to create a comprehensive strategy to guide decisions for the future. Creating formal goals also increases the likelihood that City Council (who passes the budget) will understand and react to the need to fund the necessary investments needed to reduce our carbon footprint.

How do we set up a Climate Action Plan? We follow the lead of other cities. Attached is Resolution #1 that creates a Climate Action Plan Work Group within the City of Bethlehem including representatives of the Administration, City Council, the Environmental Advisory Council, and members of the community. The CAP Work Group would look to create formal goals designed to reduce our carbon footprint, alter internal energy usage practices, encourage employee behavior change as it relates to energy, and set a community example as it relates to environmental protection.

It’s Monday, December 10, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

10 Global Warming quotes to make you hot (2)

(2ndt in a series about the Climate Action Plan)

“The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.”

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.

“The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid. Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts. The warming trend observed over the past century can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have had on the climate.”

“[This report] concludes that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising. These impacts are projected to intensify—but how much they intensify will depend on actions taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the risks from climate change now and in the coming decades.”

“Observations from around the world show the widespread effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s climate. High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are warming, rising, and becoming more acidic, and marine species are moving to new locations toward cooler waters. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. Growing seasons are lengthening, and wildfires are increasing. These and many other changes are clear signs of a warming world.”

“Since the late 19th century, however, humans have released an increasing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, deforestation and land-use change. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to human-caused warming, has increased by about 40% over the industrial era. This change has intensified the natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures and other widespread changes in Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in the history of modern civilization.”

“Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities will continue to affect Earth’s climate for decades and even centuries. Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate far greater than it is removed by natural processes, creating a long-lived reservoir of the gas in the atmosphere and oceans that is driving the climate to a warmer and warmer state.”

“High temperature extremes, heavy precipitation events, high tide flooding events along the U.S. coastline, ocean acidification and warming, and forest fires in the western United States and Alaska are all projected to continue to increase, while land and sea ice cover, snowpack, and surface soil moisture are expected to continue to decline in the coming decades. These and other changes are expected to increasingly impact water resources, air quality, human health, agriculture, natural ecosystems, energy and transportation infrastructure, and many other natural and human systems that support communities across the country.”

“Higher temperatures, increasing air quality risks, more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, increases in coastal flooding, disruption of ecosystem services, and other changes increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable. Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges and revealing new risks to health and prosperity.”

“Mental health consequences can result from exposure to climate- or extreme weather-related events, some of which are projected to intensify as warming continues. Coastal city flooding as a result of sea level rise and hurricanes, for example, can result in forced evacuation, with adverse effects on family and community stability as well as mental and physical health. In urban areas, disruptions in food supply or safety related to extreme weather or climate-related events are expected to disproportionately impact those who already experience food insecurity.”

It’s Saturday, December 8, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) (1)

(1st in a series about the Climate Action Plan)

Powered by City Councilman Reynolds, Bethlehem has a Climate Action Plan. CM Reynolds hosted a committee meeting on this plan December 4.

Gadfly has no firm, professional grip on the science or the societal or even the political ramifications of climate change, global warming, greenhouses gases, and the like. As his revered Daddy used to say, “all I know is what I read in the funny papers.”

Probably like most, but, thankfully, not all our followers, Gadfly knows only surface stuff. Tenuously grasped. Soundbite stuff.

But Gadfly knows enough surface stuff to be worried, very worried — worried about what’s happening to Mother Earth and worried about what is and what is not being done politically.

We all know our government “news-dumped” a shocking blockbuster major climate report on the day after Thanksgiving, a day designed to minimize its impact.

We all know that President Trump is a denier.

Not good.

Needless to say, Gadfly is pleased and proud that we have a plan, that someone has foresight, that we are taking action to encourage positive practices that – not to put too fine a point on it – might help save the planet.

The opposite of NIMBY is RIMBY – “Right in my backyard.”

The idea is to do what we can here, do what we can control, and thereby contribute to the whole. (Given yesterday’s thoughtful events, I’m thinking of Prez H.W. Bush’s “Thousand points of light.”)

Gadfly loves the idea and is opening a thread here to follow and share with you the City’s progress (and the City seems to be well onboard – CM Reynolds tipped his hat a couple times to active City engagement).

But before plunging right in to CM Reynolds’ plan, Gadfly feels the need to stop just a moment to establish the framework, the context in which this plan sits.

The prof in him will never die. He always feels like he should create a syllabus! Please forbear. He never promised you a rose garden.

And thus he has compiled a bit of a reading list (what blogger does this kind of thing? Ever the scholar – sigh) that he is going to spend an hour or two going through related to the publication of that aforesaid government report on November 23.

You may want to follow him. To get some facts, feelings, future projections.

1) Gadfly was looking for a brief primer of terms – some basics. This might work.
“What is climate change?” BBC

2) Then some basic news stories covering the release of the report. Sample one or two of these. They’re basically the same. Gadfly couldn’t find a short Fox piece.
CBS (5 mins.)
ABC (5 mins.)
CBS (3 mins.)
CNN (2:45 mins.)

USA Today

3) Gadfly was looking for more depth on the political context of the report, what the administration thinks about it, why it was released on a dead day, and so forth. This looks good.
The Atlantic

Trump (45 secs.)

4) A next level would be a bit more depth on the report from believers – from the co-authors of the report or specialists in the field.
NBC (5 mins.)
CBS (5 mins.)
CBS (10 mins.)

5) And for sure an in-depth report from a denier of climate change. What do their voices sound like? On what are they basing their rejection or qualification of this type government report. Gadfly says, always look at both (all) sides.
Mark Levin Show (15 mins.)

6) Lastly, the reports themselves. Now Gadfly is usually scared away from the technical reports. You too? And we usually depend on some intermediary for information. But, Gadfly says, always best to go to the primary source yourself. And, frankly, there are links on the top pages of these two reports to very, very, very easily digestible information. So don’t be timid here.

Gadfly bows to and invites knowledgeable suggestions of other resources to help us wrap some meaning and significance around CM Reynolds’ efforts to establish a CAP here.

As well as your own personal or professional views on climate change.

Gadfly needs a bit better handle on why we’re doing what we’re doing. Why it’s urgent.

So let’s spend some time here before moving into the guts of the local plan.

Y’ with me?