October 17, 2013
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on America Recycles Day – November 15th

America Recycles Day – November 15th

Blog post by Nicole Goehring, Nevada Recycles

Any event you host in November that provides education and encourages participation in recycling and waste reduction can be registered along with hundreds of other events across the country at www.AmericaRecyclesDay.org. Show your school why recycling is important! Events can be as simple as a school pledge drive or as elaborate as a waste sort or recycling collection. There are more ideas and resources on the ARD website.High-School Students Recycling

One event that would be easy to organize is a “caught green handed” campaign: choose a day or week in November during which your club or group will award students (and teachers and staff) caught in the act of recycling. I will be ordering “I Recycle” pins and recycled tire bookmarks that could be given out as the reward. If you’d like a share of these materials to hand out at your school, let me know ASAP (October 30th latest) so that I can get materials to you before November 15th!

If you need additional help with any recycling and waste reduction efforts, please contact me!
-Nicole
775-687-9466
ngoehring@ndep.nv.gov

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October 11, 2013
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on IPCC Report Release: No Surprises Here

IPCC Report Release: No Surprises Here

October 4th, 2013 by Rebecca Anderson, Alliance for Climate Change

Last Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Summary for Policy Makers for Working Group I of 5th Assessment Report, called “The Physical Science Basis”.

A few things need to be said about the process of creating the IPCC report, before we can even get into its content.

First, there is a crazy amount of research that went into this report. Just thinking about all the thousands (maybe millions) of hours that went into the research and writing of this thing overwhelms me. The report, by the numbers:

IPCC by the numbers

And at the end, the final summary must be approved by all UN member nations. Yes, policymakers from all around the world get their say here. They can’t change the underlying science but they can argue about the exact wording as well as what goes into the summary itself.

This brings up one of the biggest concerns about the report: because it is a consensus document, its conclusions are the lowest common denominator that all parties will agree to. That means they lean, sometimes heavily, on the conservative side. The high-end estimates – in many ways, the ones we should be paying the most attention to – aren’t included in the summary.

So, with that in mind, what does this consensus-based, conservative, massively-researched report tell us?

Here are four big takeaways:

1. It’s us.

Back in the last report in 2007, the IPCC said it was very likely that humans were the primary cause of warming. Now they say it’s extremely likely that it’s us. To put “extremely likely” into numbers, that means between 95-99% sure, about as sure as scientists are that smoking causes cancer. ‘Nuff said.

2. There’s been a pause in global warming. And we’re not really sure what caused it.

I’m not going to gloss over this one – this is something climate scientists are definitely struggling with. The 2000’s were the warmest decade on record, but we didn’t see a warming trend throughout that decade as scientists would have predicted. Some possibilities why:

  • Climate sensitivity is lower than we had thought. Climate sensitivity is the amount of warming you get for a given increase in CO2. This IPCC report downgraded their best estimate for climate sensitivity by a small amount, but it’s still a big variable. (Note: A lower climate sensitivity is actually good thing. It buys us more time to make up for our current reckless emissions.)
  • Natural variability. Essentially, there’s random chaos inherent in the climate system that gives us ups and downs along our trajectory toward a warmer world. Those bumps have been thought to be limited to periods of 5-10 years and this “hiatus” is now approaching 15 years, so we will soon see if warming will increase again.
  • Ocean- The ocean has been doing more than its fair share. Little known fact: Over 90% of the heat trapped by human-made greenhouse gases goes into the ocean. And it’s been definitely getting warmer over this time period. A slight increase in heat going into the ocean has big impacts for the surface air temperature that we feel.

This still doesn’t change the simple physics of climate change: CO2 traps heat. Heat warms things up. Done deal.

3. Impacts are serious.

This is a big one. Despite slightly lower climate sensitivity, the impacts of climate change are already happening and are going to get worse. This includes heat waves, melting sea ice, sea level rise and both droughts and floods. We’ll learn more about this when the report by IPCC Working Group II, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” comes out next March.

4. If we want to stay below a global temperature increase of 2ºC, which is an agreed-upon targeting for limiting dangerous climate change, we’ve already used about two-thirds of our carbon budget.

Hooray for the IPCC for talking about a total carbon budget for humanity! Maybe they learned something from Bill McKibben and his Do the Math tour. It’s simple numbers: We’ve got about 800 GtC (that’s gigatons of carbon, plus other greenhouse gases translated into carbon equivalent) available if we want to limit warming to less than 2ºC. Here’s the key: We’ve already used up over 500 Gt of it.

Reno KnuttiReto Knutti, ACE Science Advisory Board member, Professor of Climate Physics at a leading institute in Zurich, ETH, and Coordinating Lead Author of the 5th IPCC report, said in an interview with ETH Life that he considers this limited carbon budget to be the most important finding of the report:

“The total CO2 budget that humans are permitted to emit is limited. We have already used up two-thirds of it if we are to achieve the 2-degree target. The earlier we drastically reduce our emissions, the more freedom of action we give to later generations. The longer we wait before taking action, the more difficult it will become.”

It’s only a question of time: Whether we choose to act in 5 years or not until 50 years will set the stage for the climate of our planet for generations to come.

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October 1, 2013
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on GREENevada Student and Teacher Leadership Retreat

GREENevada Student and Teacher Leadership Retreat

Blog by Catherine Leon, Black Rock Solar

Teachers_HighRopes

Brave teachers on the high ropes challenge course.

GREENevada, the environmental education group that Black Rock Rock Solar co-founded in 2010, hosted its first ever Student and Teacher Leadership Retreat this past week. Eleven teachers and twenty-six students from nine different schools participated in the retreat at Sierra Nevada Journey’s beautiful Grizzly Creek Ranch campus in Portola, CA. Through this 3-day event, participants geared up to lead their school’s Green Clubs and committed to a number of exciting initiatives for the year.

Group_High_RopesThe event began Thursday – a day dedicated to teachers and their development as green leaders.  Participants networked and participated in team building activities led by Grizzly Creek Ranch staff and GREENevada members. It was a memorable day for all involved as teachers from diverse schools across northern Nevada built relationships, developed networks of support and explored innovative ideas for their environmental clubs.

On Friday, teachers began the day in a workshop  on ways to improve their club advising and leadership.  Students arrived soon afterwards and received an inspiring call to action by Rebecca Anderson from ACE.  Students and teachers then participated together in workshop sessions presented by GREENevada members designed to help them gain skills, knowledge, and resources for their school’s green initiatives. Topics included alternative transportation, waste reduction, energy efficiency, and school gardens.

Recycle_Workshop

Students and teachers at the Waste Reduction workshop with NevadaRecycles and Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful.

After the workshops, GREENevada facilitated a panel discussion with local experts including (pictured below left to right) Mark Stanton, Chief Capital Projects & Facilities Management Office for the Washoe County School District, Sheila Po’oi, Sparks High School teacher who began a successful school garden, Kelly Cannon, K-12 Science Program Coordinator for WCSD, and Julie Hunter, Senior Air Quality Specialist for the Washoe County Air Quality Management Division.

BRS_Workshop

School district officials, teachers and students discuss ideas after the Energy Efficiency Workshop by Black Rock Solar and Envirolution

Teachers left after the panel discussion feeling energized and supported to make a difference at their school. Now it was the students’ turn to get on the ropes course!

After a day of informative workshops and team building activities, students enjoyed dinner and discussed the green initiatives they’d like to take on for their schools. GREENevada presented its own No Idling campaign, and students from all participating schools jumped on board this exciting project aimed at improving air quality in and around schools by preventing automotive idling. Students will also be working on their own school initiatives including a walk and bike day, re-establishing recycling systems, fixing and fundraising for school gardens, ending use of oil for heating, and installing solar arrays.

Panel_DiscussionOn Saturday, students and GREENevada members volunteered at KTMB’s Truckee River Cleanup Day in Reno. KTMB Executive Director, Christi Cakiroglu, noted they had never been finished cleaning up Rock Park so quickly, all thanks to the students who provided such amazing help.

GREENevada would like to thank the Washoe County Air Quality Management Division and Washoe County School District for funding and staff support.

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September 30, 2013
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on Truckee River Cleanup Service Project

Truckee River Cleanup Service Project

Guest blog by Incline Village High School Students, Cameron Riege, Megan Rachlin and Zoee Reige

September 28, 2013

KTMB_BBQToday, GREENevada high school students are volunteering at KTMB’s Truckee River Cleanup at Rock Park in Sparks, NV as part of the GREENevada Student and Teacher Leadership Retreat.  There were 550 committed volunteers helping to clean, restore and beautify the Truckee River.  Volunteers participated by picking up trash, pulling weeds and a variety of other park maintenance tasks. They removed over 16 tons of garbage and weeds from the Truckee River.  We are all shocked at the amount of garbage that accumulated over the past year!  People of all ages were her to show pride in their community.  Many organizations and companies participated in the event, including GREENevada, REI, SaveMart, the Great Basin Institute’s Nevada Conservation Corp, and many others.  Today was a huge success and we look forward to seeing even more volunteers participating next year!

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