Category Archives: Stories/News

Climate Resolution for the City of Port Angeles is up for a vote

In the meeting packet .PDF linked above:
Resiliency Plan: Recommendations Addressing Climate Change — p. 78-103
Appendix A: Climate Resolution for the City of Port Angeles — p. 104
Appendix B: Actions for Reducing PT City Government Emissions — p. 106-107

Appendix A: Climate Resolution for the City of Port Angeles

WHEREAS, human activities have warmed the Earth to a point that threatens the stability of our climate and our modern way of life, and in 2018 The Fourth National Climate Assessment states that the Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities and a failure to act expeditiously that will result in a loss of human life, ecological diversity, and economic growth; and

Continue reading

Changing climate matters in Montana

“The speed of change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana climate.”

THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the Billings Gazette — Sep 22, 2019

For the first time in three years, Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road wasn’t closed by major wildfires in August, the height of the tourist season. 

Northwest Montana has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the Earth over the past century, according to information from Glacier Park. The largest and fastest temperature increases worldwide have occurred at the North Pole, south through Canada and Alaska and into the northern tier of the Lower 48, according to a report published last week in the Washington Post. 

When Glacier became a national park in 1910, it was home to more than 100 glaciers that provided water for wildlife and streams. Now only two dozen glaciers remain large enough to be considered active and they are melting faster.

Climate change is a key point in litigation over de-listing of the Yellowstone grizzly bear. The white bark pine trees of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are dying, so their pine nuts that were a staple of the grizzly diet are disappearing. Loss of that food source was part of the successful argument to keep the bears protected from hunting.

Bears and other animals whose food and habitat are changing with the climate may also get into more conflicts with people. When food is less available in remote locations, the bears will forage closer to where people are.

Among the climate changes documented in Yellowstone:

  • Average park temperatures are higher now than 50 years ago.
  • The time between last spring freeze and first fall frost has increased by about 30 days in some areas of the park over the past 50 years.
  • The Northeast Entrance by Cooke City recently has averaged 60 more days per year above freezing than it did in the mid-1980s.

Warmer days and nights might seem like a good thing, but warmth increases wildfire risk. Winters aren’t as cold as they were generations ago, so bark beetles that would freeze to death at 40 below zero are surviving to infect pine forests the next spring and summer. Huge swaths of Rocky Mountain forests (and trees in cities) have succumbed to disease transmitted by bark beetles in the past decade.

Wildfire is bad for forests, rangeland and for people who breathe the smoke. Wildfires in Colorado and Washington in 2012 alone led to 419 premature deaths, 627 hospital admissions and $3.9 billion in total health costs, according to an analysis by the National Resource Defense Fund and the University of California San Francisco that was published this month in GeoHealth.

Climate change over the past 20 years has made forest recovery more difficulty, according to University of Montana researchers. In study reported March 12 by Science Daily, the authors analyzed regeneration rates of forests

Montana’s two biggest industries — agriculture and outdoor recreation — depend on Mother Nature’s benevolence. The timing of snow, snow melt and rain are crucial for crops and livestock production. Wildfires that force road closures, evacuations and obscure Montana scenery cut into outdoor recreation for Montanans and our 11 million annual visitors. Lack of mountain snowpack hurts the ski business. Warmer rivers and streams result in hoot owl restrictions that keep anglers off the waterways during the daytime.

The weather changes daily, if not hourly, but climate is long term. Our climate is changing over decades and at an increasingly rapid rate. The vast majority of climate scientists in the United States and around the world have found that these changes are largely driven by increases of human-caused pollutants in the air.

Climate change cannot be ignored. We must prepare to live in a changed and changing world. The first steps are recognizing the problems and working on solutions that will benefit our communities and our children.

For example, there is much work to do in energy conservation. Anyone who has replaced an old boiler with a new high-efficiency furnace knows the dramatic savings it yields in electric or gas bills. Solar panels installed at Billings high schools are projected to pay for themselves in energy savings. Yet our 2019 Montana legislators rejected a well-researched bill that would have provided needed options for small businesses to upgrade their energy efficiency.

What business, homeowner or renter doesn’t want to minimize energy expenses?

The city of Billings recently re-instituted an energy conservation advisory panel at the behest of citizens who know the city can save money while reducing pollution by planning carefully and acting promptly.

These are small, but necessary first steps to conserve our resources, reduce waste and respond to the overwhelming strong scientific consensus that human activity is accelerating the warming of our planet. The speed of change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids. Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana climate.

“How dare you?”

Right here, right now is where we draw the line, The world is waking, and change is coming whether you like it or not.

Greta Thunberg, speaking before the United Nations, 9/23/2019

PDN article on Global Climate Strike OP

Kudos to Port Angeles High School

They’ve made Climate Change their theme for the year. Here’s their memo to students and parents:

School-wide theme: Educating for Climate Change: Teachers are reporting creative ways that they are incorporating the theme of Educating for Climate Change into their classrooms this year. For example:

  • Ms. Christianson’s French III/IV students found French words/phrases associated with climate change, then read articles in French that use the words. Topics ranged from a comparison of the carbon production of an average American citizen and an average Chinese citizen, to the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protesting French President Macron’s fossil fuel surcharge, to the features of modern electric vehicles.
  • Mr. Brabant’s DigiTools students read 10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018.
  • Mr. Logan’s Environmental Science class features monthly themes centered on climate change. This week his students are learning about phenology –monitoring how a tree on the campus changes throughout the year. Two years of data collected by his classes suggest that spring is occurring earlier and fall is finishing later.
  • In Mr. Hansen’s Automotive Technology class, students are writing a research essay on a subject that is automotive and related to climate change, such as what the current U.S. automotive industry is doing to reduce vehicles’ carbon footprint.
  • Ms. Helpenstell’s Leadership class discussed the idea of a Climate Action Week: Meatless Monday…Brown Out Day…Carpool Day, etc. Her Money Management class is exploring the rising cost of insurance due to climate change…how the job outlook will change…comparing long term cost of eco-friendly vehicles vs traditional vehicles.
  • students will have a unit on public murals and social change.  We plan to propose a campus mural about envisioning a positive future, highlighting hopeful imagery and references to leaders in the movement to address climate change. Digital Illustration students will have a poster assignment along similar lines, art as a tool for promoting positive social change.  We will focus on addressing climate change this year.
  • In Honors English 9, students are assigned to discuss/explain the value of one aspect of nature that you find important, emphasizing personal connections, current events, and your hopes for its future.

Plastic Industry’s Planned Expansion Threatens Our Ability to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change

“We cannot solve the climate crisis without also addressing the rapidly-growing plastic pollution crisis,” said Judith Enck, Former EPA Regional Administrator and founder of Beyond Plastics

CONTACT 518.605.1770, Judith Enck,

September 15, 2019 BENNINGTON, VERMONT — As students around the world prepare for a series of climate strikes, the petrochemical industry is planning a massive expansion in production to make up for a shortfall caused by declining demand for fossil fuels, particularly for natural gas. If growth trends continue, plastic will account for 20 percent of global oil consumption by 2050. 

“As the nation moves away from fossil fuels and invests in energy efficiency and  renewable energy, the fossil fuel  industry is panicking and they are scrambling to find a substitute,” says Judith Enck, founder of Beyond Plastics and former EPA Administrator under President Obama, “They’ve settled on plastic production and are commanding eye-popping public subsidies to build new ethane cracker plants to turn the ethane that is a waste product of natural gas hydrofracking into virgin polyethylene plastic.”

In September 2018, The American Chemistry Council reported total investments of over $200 billion in more than 330 new or expanded facilities, an alarming 25 percent increase over the previous year’s reported investments. No fewer than 12 new ethane cracker plants are currently underway in communities (overwhelmingly poor and minority) in Louisiana, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If these plants are approved and brought online, it will lock us in to even greater fossil fuel use and emissions.

The production and incineration of plastics release a tremendous amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, alone, the production and incineration of plastics will produce 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases – equivalent to the pollution output of 185 500-megawatt coal power plants. Even the most conservative predictions would result in plastics producing greenhouse gas emissions equal that of nearly 300 coal plants by 2030 and more than 600 in 2050.

The greenhouse gas emissions from the Royal Dutch Shell plant currently under construction in Monaca, PA would cancel out all of the carbon dioxide reductions that the city of Pittsburgh, 25 miles away, is working to achieve by 2030.

Should the planned expansion of the plastic industry continue apace, it will be impossible for the world to meet the Paris Climate Accord’s goal of preventing global warming from exceeding the 2.7 degree Fahrenheit rise above pre-industrial averages. Any warming beyond this threshold is predicted to result in catastrophic climate change. 

“Every new plastic production plant is another nail in the coffin,” said Enck, adding, “You can’t solve the climate change problem without also addressing the plastic pollution problem. And we can’t recycle our way out of the plastic pollution problem since less than 10% of plastics are actually recycled – and that number is likely to drop given the recent collapse of international markets.”

According to the Center for International Environmental Law’s recent report, “Plastic & Climate,” a first-of-its kind study found that plastic at the ocean’s surface continually releases methane and other greenhouse gases, and that these emissions increase as plastic breaks down further. Nine million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year – a number that is expected to increase significantly as plastic production expands. This research also suggests that plastic could interfere with the ocean’s capacity to absorb and sequester carbon dioxide, indicating that microplastics are toxic to phytoplankton and zooplankton, the microscopic ocean creatures that transport carbon deep into the ocean. 

“Policy makers need to connect the dots between plastics and climate change, and adopt new laws and regulations that address both problems before it is too late,” said Enck. “The only solution to both our climate crisis and our plastic pollution crisis is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and avoid making massive new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, including ethane cracker plants. At a bare minimum, taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize these plants as is the case at the plant that’s currently under construction in Pennsylvania.”

As students, citizens and communities prepare for the planned Climate Strikes and for Climate Week, Beyond Plastics urges everyone to urge their elected officials to act quickly and effectively to address these deeply intertwined issues. Beyond Plastics urges people to start by attending a Climate Strike in their area (search listings at Those in New York’s Capital Region can join Beyond Plastics founder, Judith Enck at the Climate Strike March and Rally hosted by PAUSE and Green Education and Legal Fund on September 20th at 11:00 AM at 79 Sheridan Avenue in Albany, NY. That is the site of the old ANSWERS garbage incinerator which Enck helped close decades ago. The plant currently burns gas but Governor Cuomo wants spend $88 million in state tax dollars to add two new turbines to burn fracked gas to heat and cool the State Capitol and other state buildings.

Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement. Our mission is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of our society. We use our deep policy and advocacy expertise to build a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet, and ourselves, from the plastic pollution crisis.

September 20th