Climate Corner

Each month the Climate Justice Team offers articles on the Climate Corner church website page and in the Church newsletter to share ideas about what we can do to help preserve this beautiful world and the life on it that we’ve inherited.

MARCH 2024: Environmental.Group.Letter.to.Congregation.3.2024

MAY 2024 – It’s spring and our thoughts are looking forward to lush lawns and bounteous gardens.  The members of the Climate Justice Team have looked into how these hopes can be realized without negative impacts on the environment.

Here are a few suggestions regarding lawn fertilizers from our Chittenden County Planning Commission:
https://rethinkrunoff.orgDo your best to keep the fertilizer on your lawn and don’t over fertilize.  As the saying goes, too much of a good thing is too much. Runoff from farms is the largest source of excess nutrients but, runoff from lawns with too much fertilizer is a part of the problem = too much nutrition for the lake.  These nutrients cause cyanobacteria and algae blooms, nursing the growth of “no swimming” signs at beaches instead of growing vegetables and they generally spoil everyone’s enjoyment of the lake. Even moderate rainfall can cause runoff to streets adding to storm water and eventually reaching, and damaging, Lake Champlain water quality.

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JUNE 21, 2024:  How to reduce your carbon footprint and save money! That may sound farfetched but it’s true.  How you drive your car is as important as what you drive.   Fossil fuel powered motor vehicles still dominate and they’ll be around for decades.  Here’s some background on how and why you can drive to reduce your fuel consumption and your CO2 output.

  • The fuel efficiency of gas-powered motor vehicle engines tops out at about 55 miles per hour.  Increase your MPH and you’ll reduce your MPG while increasing your gas bill.
  • Each gallon of gas burned creates 20 pounds of CO2.  (1 atom of carbon from the fuel joins with 2 atoms of oxygen in the atmosphere = CO2).  Due to aerodynamics and other factors the fuel efficiency of gasoline powered vehicles peaks at about 55 mph.
  • Driving at 65 mph on the Interstate burns more fuel than driving at 55.  But, driving 55 on the interstate might be too unnerving for most of us. So, using the Interstate maximum of 65 as our benchmark, what if you’re driving 70 mph?  The good news is that you’re not likely to get a ticket but the bad news is that you are going to burn 9% more gasoline, and create 20 pounds or more of CO2 for every gallon of gas you burn, while you’re spending an additional 9% or more on your fuel.
  • Increasing your speed to 75 might not get you a ticket but it will increase your fuel consumption by 15%+ compared with driving at 65, and your gas bill at 75 mph will go up by the same 15%+.
  • At 80 mph you’re burning 20% more gas, generating 20% more CO2 and spending 20% more $ to get wherever you’re going to cover the cost of the additional gas consumed. By contrast, when you’re driving on Vermont highways, IF you stick to the 55 mph speed limit, you are right in the sweet spot of engine efficiency, saving more $ and creating less CO2.
  • Gradual acceleration from stoplights instead of jackrabbit starts also means you are creating less CO2.

So, there you have it… wherever you are driving you’ll save money and reduce your carbon footprint simply by slowing down.  It’s not hard to do and using cruise control can make it even easier.

Got questions, different ideas, or suggestions.  Please tell us via email to the First Church’s Office Manager at [email protected]
– Your Climate Justice Team

June 28, 2024

How severe is climate anxiety? Along with the ongoing slow changes in climate that we are witnessing today, have come various reactions and responses from outright denial to severely disabling anxiety. Some feel that climate change is just a hoax, invented by globalist elitists to gain more power over our private lives; some believe that it may be real but can be managed; some that we need broad-scope changes to our society; some that it is already too late to do anything at all. It is not surprising, with such a wide range of attitudes towards climate change, and with so many horror stories of what might happen if we don’t take action right now, that many people, in particular many young people, have started to experience severe anxiety about what will happen in the future.

We may look at this as yet another consequence of climate change, but maybe it is better to see it as a consequence of our inability to agree on the reality of climate change. In either case, we in the First Church Climate Justice Team would like to start a discussion within our congregation about the anxiety itself. How serious is it, how wide-spread? And, most importantly, what can we as a congregation do about it? Better information about what climate change is, what causes it, what the possible consequences are, and what can be done to alleviate the severity of those consequences will help, but will it be enough? Information about what we as individuals can do to at least reduce the severity of climate change may also help, and we have started providing such information on the Climate Corner page on our church website.

But one new thing that we really would like to do is have discussions with people about climate change anxiety itself: what are you anxious about, how does it affect you or your family or friends? We feel that just talking about these anxieties may help; it will also help us, on the Climate Justice Team, to better focus our efforts in helping the congregation. If you would like to participate in such discussions, please talk to me before or after the Sunday worship service – or send me an email, or talk to any member of the Climate Justice Team, or write us via email to the First Church’s Office Manager at [email protected]
Peace,
Leendert Huisman[email protected]

JULY 5, 2024

AFFECTING CHANGE: Church members can affect change by staying up to date on environmental and climate policies in the Vermont legislature and by contacting their representatives.

The 2024 session came on the heels of a year that underscored the reality of climate disruption, with devastating flooding impacting communities, ecosystems and infrastructure throughout Vermont.  In response, lawmakers passed the Flood Safety Act (S.213).  This bill improves public safety and reduces economic impacts by safeguarding high-hazard river corridors, protecting vital wetland ecosystems which naturally mitigate flood risks, and improving dam safety by strengthening maintenance requirements and removing dams that pose a risk to public safety.

A first in the nation, “climate superfund” was established to hold the largest fossil fuel companies accountable for their fair share of costs inflicted on Vermont as a result of climate pollution from their products (S.259).

The passage of H.289 put Vermont on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity across all the state’s utilities by 2035.

Bill H.687 shifts the Act 250 process so it will be applied based on a proposed development’s location, which will make it easier to build housing in well-planned areas while protecting critical natural resources.

Finally, two bills to reduce the use of toxic chemicals advanced this year. Bill (H.706) to bans harmful neonicotinoid pesticides that contribute to pollinator loss and pose potential risks to public health.  Lawmakers unanimously passed S.25 to restrict PFAs “forever chemicals” from cookware, juvenile products, artificial turf, textiles, and personal care and menstrual products.

Governor Scott vetoed 3 bills- Act 250 and housing, the Renewable Energy Standard, and the ban on neonicotinoids.  All 3 were successfully overrode.

You can follow all Vermont legislative activity HERE – and – if you want to know how our Vermont representatives are voting on environmental issues in D.C. – use this LINK.  It is imperative that we all stay informed and encourage our representatives to support bills that advance climate justice…and to thank them when they do!!

Nancy McClellan, 

On Behalf of the FCCB Climate Justice Team

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