It’s easy to be overwhelmed by climate news. Floods, wildfires, hurricanes, all happening more and more often and on epic scales. Every headline reminds us the stakes are high and the consequences of inaction are dire. The time to act is now.
But the good news? People are taking action. Every day victories are won, great and small. Momentum is building. The solutions are taking shape.
Those stories matter too. They carry an important truth – we have the tools and ability to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change. We just need the courage to act.
Inspired by the 51st celebration of Earth Day, Project 51 continues to add dispatches of good news and bits of inspiration from the climate front. Each one is a reason to stay engaged. Each is also a reminder: if we keep making progress and piling up the good news, sooner or later those scales are going to tip in our favor. These little victories light the way.
A plastic waste pyramid art installation near COP27 has prompted remarks about the need to "turn off the plastic tap."
The same practical, enormously successful, approach employed by the Montreal Protocol of 1987 – crafting policies that stimulate new, cost-effective technologies – can be used for carbon dioxide as well.
As Iowa farmers discuss the 2023 Farm Bill, the conversation includes planning for a future of less ethanol and more EVs.
America now gets more than three times as much power from the wind, the sun, and the earth as we did a decade ago.
Residents of "Cancer Alley" celebrated a recent win against a petrochemical plant.
Wind turbine blade recycling happens close to home: Vestas, a company in Marengo, Iowa, is accepting wind turbine blades from all over the country and grinding them up to make concrete, a double-win for the climate.
- In 2022, the number of EV models with 300-mile-or-greater range nearly tripled from the previous year. Fourteen vehicles now make that list certified by the EPA.
- The Inflation Reduction Act will cut emissions 40% below 2015 levels by 2030 and reduce climate damages by $1.9 Trillion by 2050. Major benefits include creating 1.5 million jobs by 2030, reducing energy bills by an average of $1800 per year, and averting up to 100k asthma attacks per year.
- Electric vehicles charged at Iowa City’s public charging stations have resulting in more than 172,619 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions savings. That is like planting 2,000 trees and letting them grow for 10 years!
- Iowa City's four new electric buses will reduce emissions 95% compared to diesel fueled buses and save money for the city, representing a paradigm shift in transit writes the Little Village.
- Studies show that the news media are getting the stats right about climate change.
- Iowa City gained 4 new DC fast charging ports to add to our growing list of EV charging locations, thanks to area gas stations. These new charging stations can fully charge a vehicle in 20 minutes, making it a much faster charging option for Iowa City drivers.
- More than 5,000 tons of material were composted or recycled in 2021 through Iowa City’s curbside program, which equates to 36.12% of waste being diverted from the landfill.
- The Iowa City School District surpassed its emissions reduction goals in 2020, putting it on track to reduce emissions 62% by 2024.
- Rapid advances in battery technology suggest all new cars in the U.S. could be electric by 2035, resulting in consumer cost savings of over $2.7 trillion compared to continued use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles.
- In 2020, nearly 1.5 wind turbines were constructed in Iowa every day, bringing the total number of turbines in the state to nearly 5,900. Nearly 60% of electricity in Iowa is now generated by wind, more than any other state in the nation.
- Wondering just how much money will your household receive from the Inflation Reduction Act? Find out with this calculator!
- Data collected by Zillow shows that energy-efficient homes often sell faster and for more money.
- Electric Vehicles' widespread adoption is having a real impact on oil demand; every day last year, they prevented 1.5 million barrels of oil from being used, displacing more than 3 percent of the planet’s total oil demand.
- A team of engineers at Stanford University has developed a solar cell that can generate some electricity at night.
- The world’s first steel mill to run almost entirely on solar will bring $285 million private investment in new energy infrastructure to Colorado and support more than 1,000 jobs at the mill.
- A sustainable housing development in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be one of the country’s first mixed-income, net-zero energy communities.
- Michael Regan, sworn into office in 2021 and the first Black man to lead the EPA, talks about what motivates him to work toward a cleaner environment.
- Oil well re-purposing: Most of the world’s lithium supply for batteries currently comes from hard rock and brine deposits; however, recent advances in extraction technology could make it economically feasible to produce so-called petrolithium from oil and gas drill holes, using a process with a low carbon footprint and extremely low fresh water use.
- As the US transitions away from fossil fuels, the Green Workers Alliance is ensuring the continued growth of jobs with fair wages and safe conditions. More than 3 million workers across the country are now employed in the clean energy industry.
- Renewable energy can be produced from cow manure via anaerobic digesters. A farm in central Pennsylvania is researching how to make this process cost-effective at a small scale.
- Replacing the U.S.’s gas-powered auto fleet with electric vehicles would do more than cut direct greenhouse gas emissions: according to a study published this month in the journal Ecological Economics, a scenario in which the U.S. shifts all passenger cars to EVs by the middle of the century could prevent nearly 10 percent of global cropland expansion, mostly in developing countries such as Brazil, China, and India.
- In Illinois, a renewable energy procurement plan is turning 11 retired coal-fired power plants into clean electricity powerhouses.
- The environmental justice movement is growing, and growing up, according to the Father of Environmental Justice Dr. Robert Bullard.
- The nonprofit Green 2.0 is helping environmental organizations hire, retain, and promote people of color, diversifying who is at the forefront of environmental decision-making.
- Climate action’s sneaky popularity: A recent study shows that a majority of Americans -- 66 to 80 percent -- support climate policies such as a price on carbon or a Green New Deal.
- “Problems are our work; we deal with them in order to survive or improve the world, and so to face them is better than turning away from them, from burying or denying them. To face them can be an act of hope, but only if you remember that they’re not all there is,” writes environmental journalist Rebecca Solnit in her essay “False Hope and Easy Despair.”
- Demonstrating how storytelling can be a powerful tool in addressing climate change, climate justice advocate Mary Annaïse Heglar reminds us even if you don't feel hopeful, you don't have to feel helpless. “The thing about climate is that you can be overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem, or fall in love with the creativity of the solutions,” she writes.
- Wendell Berry envisions what we can achieve if we do the work of climate action well in his poem “A Vision.”
- Reflecting on her grandmother born in Iowa in 1887, one woman finds inspiration to help navigate the challenges of climate change without succumbing to the ideas that "there are only two choices — that either you’re scared to death and deprive yourself of everything because you feel guilty, or that you just dismiss it all as ridiculous and go on living without care."
- Prompt for the Planet, a program inspired in Iowa City, is an opportunity for young and old to get creative in “speaking” for the planet.
- Many natural features along Iowa City's Sycamore Greenspace trail were incorporated to provide key environmental benefits, and anytime is a great time to grab your bike or walking shoes to see some of the features along the trail yourself.
- Plant a tree! Iowa City planted 1,200 trees in 2021, plus 333 from the Root for Trees program, more than tripling the previous year’s record. The Root for Trees program aims to help residents plant 800 more in 2022.
- Listen to the free “How To Save A Planet” podcast to explore what we need to do to solve the climate crisis and how we can get it done.
- Cut down on waste at home with these clever tricks to revive food.
- Recycle glass. Glass is infinitely 100% recyclable, and in Iowa City, you’ll be able to recycle glass at more drop-off locations this year.
- Purchase with the planet in mind. Rainforest Alliance-certified products help to protect forests, fight climate change, and support human rights.
- Support pollinators. You can support monarch butterflies, a pollinator that is vital to a healthy environment, by planting milkweed in your yard.
- Eat delicious, plant-based food to reduce environmental impact. Incorporating more meatless meals into your lifestyle significantly cuts down on carbon emissions tied to food production
- Engage with Future Earth’s "Good News Tuesday" Instagram series for positive, inspiring news stories related to climate.
- Participate. The Iowa City Public Library is continuing to host virtual, environmental-themed events for the community’s benefit. Check out the library's events page.
- Recycle batteries! Iowa City continues to expand its battery recycling program for easier participation. See all drop-off locations at www.icgov.org/hhm.
- Reduce the impacts of plastic pollution and amp up your recycling habits by also finding opportunities to reduce, reuse, remove, and refuse plastic products.
- Use this easy calculator to find out how much your daily commute is costing you, then commit to trying something different. Pick a day to walk, ride a bike, or take a bus to work. Then recalculate your costs to figure out your savings if you kept it up a couple days every week!
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