Monday, May 5, 2014

Cancer, a house on fire, and an unstoppable snowball

If you’ve been looking for that one video that conveys the urgency of climate change, places it in a very human and personal context, and offers realistic advice about what you can do, this is it. It’s a talk by University of Toronto psychology professor Dan Dolderman. Here’s an interview with Dolderman: Can an 'Unstoppable Snowball' fight climate change and change the world?

- Eric Smalley

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rozzie Roofs Sprout Solar Panels

Photo: Eric Smalley

The Rozzie Solar Challenge is making great progress. In less than a year 11 homes have added solar panels to their roofs and 11 more are in progress. If you (or anyone you know) are interested in learning about your options for putting solar panels on your roof, there will be a workshop on Monday, May 19 at 6:30 PM in the community room at the Longfellow House.

If your roof passes an initial online screening for suitability, you can schedule a no-cost assessment to determine if your home can go solar. Everyone who has the assessment will receive $50 in Rozzie Bucks, which can be redeemed at many shops and restaurants in Roslindale.

For more info, contact Josh Lynch of Next Step Living at

- Eric Smalley

The City and the Rising Sea

The April 4 issue of the Boston Globe Magazine has an article about the city's preparations for climate change: How Boston is — and should be — preparing for rising seas. The article identifies five things Boston is doing and five things Boston should be doing.

Five things Boston is doing now:
  • Fostering public-private coordination
  • Building with higher sea levels in mind
  • Ensuring that the city's emergency services function without grid power
  • Requiring developers to plan for sea-level rise
  • Flood-proofing microgrids.

Five things Boston should be doing:
  • Study a storm surge barrier
  • Use its political and economic power to lead the state and the private sector
  • Retrofit homes for flood preparedness
  • Coordinate with neighboring towns and area universities
  • Move vulnerable infrastructure and facilities inland

    - Eric Smalley

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Busy Week for Climate Activists

By Pam Sinotte

On Monday, February 3, braving snow and slick sidewalks, about 30 residents of Jamaica Plain and surrounding communities gathered for a “singing vigil” to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. 

Protesters in Jamaica Plain urge Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

We were 30 of over 10,000 who gathered for vigils in 283 locations in 49 states (plus DC and Canada) to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As a light snow fell, led by the “Fossil Fuel Follies,” we sang climate action songs from their repertoire as well as songs by the recently deceased Pete Seeger. Responding to our signs, candles and song, simpatico drivers honked their horns.

A protester makes a demand.

Organized in just 72 hours by groups including CREDO, and the Sierra Club, the vigils were a response to the State Departments release, on January 31, of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on KXL which states that the pipeline will have minimal environmental impact. The final decision to approve the pipeline, or not, will be President Obama’s.

The proposed pipeline would transport dirty tar sands oil from Canada through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries where, most contend, it will ultimately be shipped overseas. Many studies show that building the pipeline will accelerate climate change because of the amount of CO2 that will be added to the atmosphere when the oil is burned.

Five days later, on Saturday, February 8, 400 demonstrators from across the state turned out on Salem Common in Salem, Massachusetts, to protest the building of a natural gas power plant facility on the Salem Waterfront. We carried an array of homemade signs and banners, and sang and chanted our way from the Common to the Waterfront site of the proposed plant.

Demonstrators in Salem oppose the building of a gas-fired power plant.

The new plant would be built by New Jersey-based Footprint Power, owners of the Salem Harbor Station, a 63-year-old coal- and oil-fired power plant that currently sits on the site but is scheduled to close by the end of May. The $800-million 674-megawatt natural gas power plant is slated for completion in 2016.

Dorian Sosnick Williams addresses the Salem demonstrators.

One rally speaker, Dorian Sosnick Williams, said with passion, “I am 22 years old and climate change is impacting every major decision I make…including the decision of whether or not to have children.” In a recent email, Williams wrote: “If this plant moves forward, it could set the precedent for all future retiring coal plants to be replaced with natural gas, stifling investment in renewables and locking us into decades of continued fossil fuel reliance.” Williams is Climate Legacy Coordinator for 350 Massachusetts and Energy Organizer for Better Future Project.

The rally was organized by 350 Massachusetts, Better Future Project and Salem-based Grassroots Against Another Salem Power Plant (GAASP).

An update: On February 20, State energy officials gave their final approval for the construction of FP’s proposed new plant. For details see New Salem power plant wins final approval.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

City of Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update

By Pam Sinotte

What would Boston look like if Hurricane Sandy had hit Boston at high tide? This and many similar questions were explored as representatives of the City of Boston presented a draft of the 2014 Climate Action Plan (CAP) Update to members of non-profit organizations and neighborhood environmental groups last month. The new CAP will be completed and released by the end of 2014.

The Climate Action Plan contains a wealth of information; here are some highlights:
Some good news:
-        Through community and individual action, emissions per resident and overall emissions in the city are declining.
-        We are half-way to our goal of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2020.
-        Boston was recently ranked the most energy efficient city in the U.S. based on our policies and programs, and the fifth best city for biking.
Some bad news:
-        By 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest.
-        Over 50% of our decrease in GHGs in the past five years came from something Boston doesn’t control – a switch from dirtier coal to cleaner natural gas power plants.

As Nancy Girard, Environment Commissioner for the City of Boston, said, “We’ve gotten all the low-hanging fruit – now we have to push harder. Climate action comes down to individual choices and neighborhood actions.”

Click here to see slides of what the 2014 CAP update will achieve, and how your choices can make a positive difference in reducing greenhouse gases. It’s worth taking a look just to see the dramatic slide of how a storm like Hurricane Sandy would impact Boston today and at mid-century.

One of the city’s goals is to engage 10,000 Bostonians in the 2014 CAP planning process and implementation. The City needs to hear from you! Here’s how you can participate:
-        Join the conversation and share your ideas - go to
-        Attend or host a Greenovate Boston Meet-up
-        Check out the Summit in April - we’ll post further information on this website as it becomes available

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Making passive solar space heaters

By Eric Smalley

On November 16th, we were fortunate to have renowned woodturner and GreeningRozzie board member Beth Ireland lead a workshop on making passive solar space heaters. Twenty of us gathered at the Roslindale Community Center and learned to use hand tools.

We made 12” x 24”wooden boxes and we painted aluminum cans black.

We painted the interiors of the boxes black, put the painted cans in the boxes and covered the boxes with Plexiglas.

Placed in a South-facing window or other sunny spot, the heater emits a stream of warm air. The black paint absorbs sunlight, which warms the cans and the interior of the box. This warms the air inside the heater, which rises and exits through a hole at the top of the box. A hole at the bottom of the box lets air flow in, which allows a steady circulation through the heater.

Here’s a how-to video for making similar passive solar space heaters.

Here’s blog post by GreeningRozzie intern Hannah Pullen-Blasnik about passive solar heating.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

On the scientific merit of sand in the gears

One of today’s finest journalists, Naomi Klein, flips the usual relationship between climate science and activism in the New Statesman article How science is telling us all to revolt. For a long time, climate science has informed activism. Now activism is becoming a measurable factor that scientists are accounting for in looking at climate change. Here’s to being a grain of sand among many in the gears of the fossil fuel machine.