What’s For Dinner? Reconnecting Our Food With Our Climate

Photo: SERC

Tuesday, October 24, 2023
7 pm
Zoom, hosted by Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Register here.

Our food systems have become increasingly fragile in the face of climate change, ongoing conflicts and the long-tail of the COVID-19 pandemic. More frequent—and more intense—extreme events challenge food production, storage and transportation. At the same time, how we grow, process, package and transport our food often harms the environment, further accelerating climate change and biodiversity loss. Fixing this requires bridging the gap between food policies and climate policies. Join Dr. Jessica Fanzo for a look at sustainable food practices for a hotter, more turbulent world. Fanzo directs the Food for Humanity Initiative at the Columbia University Climate School. In this talk, she’ll reveal the must-do actions to nourish 9.7 billion people by 2050.

3rd Annual Mount Vernon District Environmental Expo, June 26th

Photo courtesy of Environment Expo

Fort Hunt Park
8999 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria VA
Saturday, June 26, 2021
8am – Noon
Reserve your FREE ticket today!

This FREE Family Friendly Event will include: Exhibitors, Workshops, Live Music, Live Reptile and Owl Programs, Electric Vehicles, Nature Walks, Junior Ranger Program, Touch-a-Truck Recycling, History Tours, Purple Glass Monster (bring your glass recycling for drop off!), Food Trucks and more!

This year’s event will be held in partnership with the National Park Service. The event will educate and inform local residents on environmental challenges that they face on a daily basis, including ones that are unique to the Mount Vernon area. Attendees will leave the Expo with simple actions they can take to make an impact on climate change and our environment.

This event will adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in place on June 26. In order to meet any outdoor event size limits, pre-registration is recommended. If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, walk-ups without registration will be permitted. Please visit the Expo registration site to reserve your FREE ticket today!

The Social Cost of Carbon

Climate change is the central issue of our time, affecting everything connected to the natural world.

Economists have calculated the costs of climate change, one of which is the social cost of carbon (SCC). Watching this 3-minute video on SCC is an easy way to understand the reasoning behind the concept and what it means in terms of government decision making that affects all of us.

An additional resource is this explanation by Kevin Rennet and Cora Kingdon of Resources for the Future (excerpted here): “The social cost of carbon (SCC) is an estimate, in dollars, of the economic damages that would result from emitting one additional ton of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The SCC puts the effects of climate change into economic terms to help policymakers and other decisionmakers understand the economic impacts of decisions that would increase or decrease emissions. The SCC is currently used by local, state, and federal governments to inform billions of dollars of policy and investment decisions in the United States and abroad. This explainer reviews how the SCC is used in policy analysis, how it is calculated, and how it came to be.”

The Environmental Defense Fund offers accessible articles on SCC as well as an amazing podcast called Degrees. The host, Yesh Pavlik Slenk, interviews people who use their jobs and their time to make a real difference for their communities.

Want to reduce your own carbon footprint? suggests 7 easy ways to start.

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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

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.