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Climate Solutions 101, by Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown brings you science and insights from global leaders in climate policy, research, investment, and beyond. Rather than rehashing well-known climate challenges, Project Drawdown sets out climate action opportunities based on its own rigorous scientific review and assessment. Climate Solutions 101, presented as a six-part video series, combines Project Drawdown’s trusted resources with the expertise of inspiring thought leaders from around the world.

Climate solutions become attainable with increased access to free, science-based educational resources, elevated public discourse, and tangible examples of real-world action.

Deepen your climate solutions commitment by taking the course–each lesson is about 15 minutes.

Check Out Two Air Quality and Energy Choice Activities for Educators from the Environmental Protection Agency and MIT

Environmental Protection Agency researchers participate in educational outreach to schools, museums, and other locations to teach students about air quality and climate change research that EPA and partners conduct to protect the air we breathe and provide the knowledge and scientific tools to respond to a changing climate. As part of the outreach, researchers have developed several hands-on activities for teachers and others to use in the classroom and other educational settings.

Particulate Matter (PM) Air Sensor Kits

Particle pollution, known as particulate matter (PM), is one of the major air pollutants regulated by EPA to protect public health and the environment. EPA researchers developed a PM air sensor kit as an educational tool to teach children about air quality and air science. MIT extended the work and developed a kit that you and your students can build together. Learn more and order the kit.

Generate: The Game of Energy Choices

EPA scientists developed an interactive board game called Generate: The Game of Energy Choices, which enables players to explore energy choices and the environment and gets students “energized” in some friendly competition. The game is a teaching tool that can be used to understand the costs and benefits of the energy choices we make; find out what happens if the mix of energy sources changes in the future and learn what energy choices mean for our climate, air, water, and overall environmental quality.

Encourage the Teens in Your Life to Work With Fairfax County to Protect the Environment

The Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC) is pleased to announce the opening of the application period for its student member term running from July 2021 through June 2022. EQAC comprises of one citizen representative from each of nine magisterial districts, four at‑large members, and one student representative. Each member is appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve a three-year term, except the student member, who serves during her or his junior or senior year of high school.

EQAC’s primary function is to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for improving environmental protection and enhancement. During monthly meetings, issues such as water quality, air quality, land use, transportation, solid waste, noise, ecological resources, climate change, energy, hazardous materials, visual and light pollution, and environmental stewardship are investigated. In addition, EQAC holds a public comment meeting each year, typically in January, to obtain input from the community on issues of environmental concern.

The Annual Report on the Environment, which is prepared by EQAC, provides information on the status of various environmental resources and issues and is designed to aid the Board of Supervisors in setting its environmental agenda and priorities. EQAC prepares the Annual Report on the Environment with contributions from different agencies.

The council generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month, starting at 7:15 p.m. The student member application is open to all interested high school sophomores and juniors who are in good standing. Eligible public school, private school, parochial, and homeschooled students are encouraged to apply.

If you are currently a sophomore or junior in good standing and would be interested in serving in this capacity during your junior or senior year, please download and complete the application linked below. All applications must be received via email to eqac@fairfaxcounty.gov by 11:59 PM on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Download application

Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan Public Surveys Are Now Open

What would it take for you to make a major energy-saving improvement to your home? Would a rebate help? How about changes to HOA or permitting requirements? What do you think it would take to reduce the use of personal vehicles in Fairfax County?

Answer these questions and more in three very brief online surveys, open now through March 14, and help inform the development of Fairfax County’s first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. The five minutes you spend on a survey today will have a real impact on our community tomorrow and for years to come. Find the surveys here.

How Climate Change Affects Your Health

There’s more to climate change than meets the eye. When most people hear the term “climate action” they think of planting trees, turning off the lights, driving clean cars, and buying less plastic. There’s good reason for these associations, all of these activities help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, or address greenhouse gas emissions, and this is the heart of climate action. People think about these activities in terms of environmental and economic benefits – we can preserve natural resources and build a more sustainable economy for future generations. Health doesn’t always enter the conversation, but it should.

Spread of Infectious Disease

As weather patterns and temperature norms shift over time, so will the spread of infectious disease. Many infectious diseases are carried by vectors, like mosquitoes and ticks, and these organisms will see a change in their home ranges over time as the climate changes. We could see diseases that were once considered tropical or subtropical become commonplace here in Fairfax County.

Heat Waves For Days

In the DC-metro region, we’re used to some hot summer days. But what if those stretches of extremely hot weather worsened and lasted for longer periods of time? What if a trend toward hotter weather overall started to impact our health? It’s possible. We already know that climate change is expected to cause a steady increase in the number of days with high minimum temperatures (nighttime temperatures that remain above 75 degrees) in our region. Sustained heat events can be dangerous to those who work outdoors, children who spend time outdoors, the elderly, pregnant women, low-income individuals without access to relief, and those with weakened immune systems.

Pollution and Respiratory Illness

Finally, it’s important to know that many of the same chemical compounds that change our climate over time are also common air pollutants, which make it harder to breathe and can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, like asthma. By working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, personally and as a community, we can have a direct impact on air quality in our region.

This is why Fairfax County is developing the first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. The CECAP is unique in that it is being developed by the community, for the community, with input from dozens of organizational, business, and civic leaders, as well as individual residents. The CECAP will outline greenhouse gas reduction goals for the community and will include recommended strategies and actions community members can take on a voluntary basis to help achieve the goals. County residents interested in helping to implement the plan can email cecapoutrach@fairfaxcounty.gov for more information.

Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System

The National Academies of Science and Medicine just published their report, Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, and have made available a public overview and interactive summaries to make the 200+ document easier to digest. See the links below.

Report Resources

Upcoming Events

Join the National Academy of Sciences study chair Stephen Pacala for a Climate Conversation at the National Academies on Feb 18, 2021 at 3pm ET.  Learn more and register to attend at https://climate-convo-decarb.eventbrite.com

Here’s a clear, 101-level overview of what the social cost of carbon means, courtesy of Resources for the Future.

On February 23 and February 25, Fairfax County Wants to Hear from You on Energy and Transportation

Did you know, 68 percent of Fairfax County residents believe that individual citizens should do more to address climate change? Climate change is a global problem, but it also stands to impact us locally and we have a responsibility to address it head on. In response, Fairfax County has created a Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. 

The facts can be hard to swallow: climate change is expected to alter the geographic reach, seasonal distribution, and abundance of disease vectors, like mosquitoes and ticks. Infectious diseases that were once considered tropical or subtropical may become commonplace in our region. On top of that, the economic sector most at risk due to climate change is agriculture. For each degree Celsius our global thermostat increases, there will be a 5 to 15 percent decrease in overall crop production. As supply decreases, and demand remains the same or increases, the price of food could very well rise. 

The good news is no action is too small to make a difference. From changing a light bulb, to choosing to drive an electric vehicle, to weatherizing a home or business, we can all participate in climate action in multiple ways according to our means and abilities. There is no guarantee that our individual actions will directly alter our experience of climate change here in Fairfax County in the short term, but inaction is not an option if we want to see positive change here and elsewhere in our region in the long term. The CECAP is our path forward – a roadmap for our community, showing us the many ways we can start to address climate change locally. 

Please learn more about climate action in Fairfax County. Later this month, online surveys will be available, and the county will host two public meetings to gather community input on climate change mitigation strategies and actions.

February 23, 2021: Virtual public meeting on energy issues. Join via WebEx.

February 25, 2021: Virtual public meeting on transportation, development, and waste issues. Join via WebEx.

Engage with Fairfax County’s Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan

The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination is currently working with county residents and stakeholders to develop the first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. Here is some information about this initiative and why it matters.

It’s a fact: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human-driven climate change is taking place now. Climate change occurs when greenhouse gases build up in our atmosphere and trap heat that might otherwise escape, causing shifts in global temperatures and weather patterns over time. In the United States, and in Fairfax County specifically, the two greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are the burning of fossil fuels to provide electricity for buildings, and the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles on our roads.

Fairfax County is not immune to the effects of climate change, we already experience stronger storms related to climatic shifts. A single severe storm in 2019 cost Fairfax County taxpayers $14 million. That is money that could have been spent on other county services, programs, and projects. Extreme weather events pose a risk to life and property as well. Many residents stand to lose personal property and real estate as the result of flooding and other weather impacts.

While there are limits to what the Fairfax County government can do to address climate change locally, individual residents can make a major difference. More than 95 percent of local greenhouse gas emissions come from sources other than local government operations – like energy use at home, business operations, and cars and trucks on our roads. The CECAP will define actions we can each take to be a part of the solution.

You can learn more about climate action in Fairfax County. Later this month, online surveys will be available, and the county will host public meetings to gather community input on climate change mitigation strategies and actions. FMN will share more information about opportunities for you to participate in the coming weeks.

Attend CECAP Energy and Transportation Subgroup Meetings, Jan 27 and 28

CECAP Energy Subgroup – January 27, 2021

1/27/2021 6:00 pm – 1/27/2021 8:00 pm

The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) Working Group subgroup on energy will meet on January 27, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM electronically via WebEx. At this meeting, the subgroup will continue the brainstorming discussion begun in early December regarding various emission reduction strategies.

Members of the public can access the WebEx meeting by clicking this link and entering meeting number 179 566 7793, and pass code 520676. Join by phone: 1-415-655-0001 and enter access code: 179 566 7793.

Please note, this meeting will be recorded pursuant to Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) requirements. The recording of this meeting will be posted publicly on this website.

MEETING MATERIALS

Please click here to view the meeting agenda.

Please click here to view the strategy discussion starters. The purpose of this document is to provide background information and a starting list of sector-specific strategies to guide and inform sector-specific discussions.

CECAP Transportation and Development Subgroup – January 28, 2021

1/28/2021 6:00 pm – 1/28/2021 8:00 pm

The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) Working Group subgroup on transportation, development, and waste will meet on January 28, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM electronically via WebEx. At this meeting, the subgroup will continue the brainstorming discussion begun in early December regarding various emission reduction strategies.

Members of the public can access the WebEx meeting by clicking this link and entering meeting number 179 820 1268, and pass code 976488. Join by phone: 1-415-655-0001 and enter access code: 179 820 1268.

Please note, this meeting will be recorded pursuant to Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) requirements. The recording of this meeting will be posted publicly on this website.

MEETING MATERIALS

Please click here to view the meeting agenda.

Please click here to view the strategy discussion starters. The purpose of this document is to provide background information and a starting list of sector-specific strategies to guide and inform sector-specific discussions.

Public Health Perspectives on Sustainable Diets

Coursera offers this excellent 7-hour intro-level class from Johns Hopkins (no charge so long as you don’t need the certificate). In addition to the easy-to-follow lectures and short assessments, the class offers downloadable reports and other resources, and enables you to download the videos and slides as well.

Overview

What we eat and how we produce that food have significant effects on human health and the sustainability of our planet. But what is a ‘sustainable’ diet? A sustainable diet, as defined by the FAO, promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations. This short course looks at the urgent need to address the sustainability of our food systems, including better understanding the complex relationship between diet and climate change. Learners explore current research on dietary shifts needed in high, middle, and low-income countries to achieve both sustainability and food security goals and discuss evidence-based strategies to promote sustainable diets. This course is offered by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and draws from the graduate-level food systems curriculum at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. You may also be interested in our eight-week flagship Coursera course, “An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health”.

Introduction to Food Systems Sustainability and Public Health 

Our food system is much more than a supply chain that brings food from the farm to your plate. What is a food system? How can thinking about food as a system help us understand and address the messy overlapping issues of diet, food production, planetary health and climate change? What does ‘sustainability’ mean, in the context of food systems, and is it the same as resilience? How has COVID-19 pandemic amplified the many challenges faced by vulnerable workers and consumers? Roni Neff addresses these questions – and many more – in this opening series of lectures. 

Sustainable Diets and Climate Change

What defines a sustainable diet? Why do sustainable diets matter? And what might sustainable diets look like in the US and around the world? The answers may surprise you. In this engaging and thought-provoking set of lectures, Brent Kim will address these questions and explain recent research that compares the impact of different diets on greenhouse gas emissions and water use across 140 countries. 

Strategies for Advancing Sustainable Diets 

The final week explores sustainable diets through the lens of a public health practitioner and registered dietician. They apply the concept of a sustainable diet to different parts of the world, considering the nutritional needs of different populations and why it is difficult to define a ‘sustainable’ diet for everyone. They share evidence-based strategies for communicating about sustainable diets and how different sectors can play a role in advancing change. 

For FMN members: The course has been submitted to the continuing education calendar for credit. check back for information on approval.