All posts by kbaja

Governor O’Malley Issues Statement on President Obama’s Proposal to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Pollution

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 2, 2014) Governor O’Malley today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of a proposed rule to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants:

“Climate change is transforming the world in profound ways that continue to evolve. We still have time to become great ancestors, and we have a moral obligation to our children and our grandchildren to act now while we can make a difference.

“I congratulate and thank President Obama for his bold leadership. Today’s announcement is the first federal regulatory action to set carbon pollution standards for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, the largest single source of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Maryland is among the nation’s most vulnerable states to the effects of sea level rise from climate change, and we are taking strong action to reduce carbon pollution. Three of our 16 strategic goals bear on this directly, our goals:to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020to increase Maryland’s in-state renewable generation to 20% by 2022; and to reduce energy consumption in Maryland 15% by 2015.

“Maryland regulates carbon emissions from power plants through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a partnership with eight other East Coast states. RGGI is a key component of Maryland’s Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we are pleased to see the federal proposal recognize the value of a regional approach.

“We are already witnessing a transformation in the U.S. economy to increased production of lower carbon energy through fuel switching to natural gas and expansion of wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable non-carbon intensive energy sources. The President’s proposal will: (1) help us continue to expand our use of renewable sources of energy and reduce harmful air pollution responsible for increased risk of heart and lung disease; (2) give us greater energy security; (3) make important strides in improving public health; and (4) unleash the power of our innovative green economy.

“We must preserve our planet and grow our economy simultaneously. We cannot become more prosperous without the living systems upon which our prosperity depends.”

Click here for more information on Maryland’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Maryland Department of the Environment, June 2, 2014

The 2014 Annual Sustainability Town Hall—A Success!!

Make a plan. Build a kit. Help each other.

That’s what Baltimore residents did on April 22, 2014 at the Annual Sustainability Town Hall. Mayor Rawlings-Blake welcomed the event’s attendees, which included residents from all over the City, as well as City Council members and key partners who are helping Baltimore be more resilient.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake addresses attendees at the Annual Sustainability Town Hall
Mayor Rawlings-Blake addresses attendees at the Annual Sustainability Town Hall

As attendees arrived at the Humanim American Brewery Building in East Baltimore, they were asked to describe their level of preparedness before heading upstairs to enjoy some delicious food while participating in a number of activities.

arrows

Attendees were guided by green arrows on the floor. They first learned about some of the hazards which threaten the City of Baltimore, and attendees were then given assistance as they filled out their own FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN (visit the Get Prepared pages of this website to download a PDF of the plan template!).

Community with Bags

With their family emergency plan filled in, attendees proceeded to stuff a bag full of free items for their EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS KIT; supplies included flashlights and batteries, crank-powered radios, fans, face masks, waste baggies, can openers, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, a SAFE/NEED HELP WINDOW SIGN (see the Get Prepared pages of this site!), and more!

flood_assistance

With their plans and their kits, attendees could walk around the floor to learn about how City partners are helping Baltimore become more resilient, and about what Baltimore’s residents can do to HELP EACH OTHER. When all that was done, attendees could browse the 2013 Annual Sustainability Report, get on film talking about their experiences with hazards, and contribute a post-it to the sustainability and resiliency wall!

Post-its2 Post-its

Children who attended were invited to participate in some fun activities in the “Kids Zone”—including food art, planting seeds, coloring in hazards drawings, a disaster supply memory match game, and a fun round of Pin the Gear on the Turtle. 

What turtle, you ask?

At the Town Hall, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability had the pleasure of introducing residents to Baltimore’s new turtle friend, a champion of resiliency and sustainability!

Mascot

If you couldn’t join us for the April 22nd event, you can read about it in this Baltimore Sun article on the Annual Sustainability Town Hall! Or, if you’re interested in hosting a similar event in your own neighborhood, check out the Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Help Each Other—Small Neighborhood Meetings page to learn more!

Check out some photos from the Kid Zone at the Town Hall event! Food with Kids4Food with Kids2Kidsseeds 1

JRF Climate Change Infographic: GHG Emissions by Income

JRF Climate Change Infographic: GHG Emissions by Income

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) addresses issues of poverty, place, and an aging society. In their work, they aim to support resilient communities and places where people thrive. To do so, they’ve launched programs to raise awareness about issues such as climate change.

This infographic shows the disparities between carbon emissions, revealing that the top 10% of the highest earners in the UK are producing 16,143 KG CO2, compared to 5,026 KG CO2 produced by the lowest 10% of earners.

Click on the photo to see more infographics and learn more about JRF’s work.

From the White House: “The Polar Vortex, Explained in Two Minutes”

Check out this very cool video where Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, explains how the Polar Vortex that swept the Country in early January 2014 is tied to climate change!

Welcome + About

In recent years, Baltimore has made great strides in becoming a more sustainable City. In 2012, the Office of Sustainability created a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the City of Baltimore. The process developed emission reduction goals and strategies for mitigating climate change. The CAP called for the creation of a city-wide climate adaptation plan to provide guidance for dealing with extreme natural hazard events in addition to a changing climate. Baltimore’s Disaster Preparedness Project and Plan (DP3) was adopted the following year, in October 2013.

To become a more resilient City, Baltimore must be prepared for the worst. Recognizing that the climate is changing, the City has taken proactive steps to ensure that Baltimore is able to respond to future natural hazards and capable of quickly bouncing back from any disaster.

The DP3 propels Baltimore to the forefront of national sustainability, preparedness, and resiliency efforts. The feasible strategies and actions identified within the Plan will help Baltimore to reduce risk, integrate redundancy into our existing systems, and increase our overall resiliency while also contributing to the City’s goal of achieving economic, equitable, and environmental growth.

Baltimore is growing again, and as new families return to the City it is our responsibility to assure that our communities are resilient to the changing climate. The DP3 was developed to address existing hazards, while simultaneously preparing for future hazard events that are predicted as a result of climate change. In fact, records confirm that the natural hazards which Baltimore has faced in the past are already growing in both severity and intensity.

The plan integrates hazard mitigation with climate adaptation efforts that will help Baltimore minimize its vulnerabilities, reduce or eliminate loss of life and property damage, upgrade essential infrastructure and buildings, integrate redundancy into our existing systems, and increase overall resiliency to natural hazards. Although the City has already made tremendous headway in reducing risk and in increasing hazard and climate change awareness, great strides must still be taken before we can truly reach a comfortable level of resiliency. Even then, we must not let down our guard; the City of Baltimore must always be prepared and one step ahead. While it is true that Baltimore cannot entirely stop the powerful forces of Mother Nature, we absolutely must do what we can to protect our people and property and enhance our natural systems.

Energy

Greenhouse gases (GHG) occur naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the time of the Industrial Revolution, however, human activity has significantly increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Burning fossil fuels for energy generation is a one of the leading, human-produced causes of higher GHG levels.

In Baltimore City, the consumption of electricity, natural gas, kerosene and heating oil within residential, commercial and industrial buildings generates over 79.5 percent of GHG  emissions community-wide. In addition to reducing these GHG emissions, energy efficiency actions can lower utility bills and lead to long-term energy cost savings and a reduced risk of rising energy prices for building owners.

On this website, you’ll find opportunities to learn about the fundamentals of energy efficiency as well as tips for increasing your home or building’s energy performance through weatherization, appropriate roofing and landscaping techniques, and the use of small scale renewables.

Preparedness

Disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace, and the most devastating disasters are often those that occur unexpectedly and with little warning.  FEMA defines disaster preparedness as “a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.” (See the Preparedness Cycle image below).

Preparedness Cycle continuous loop graphic showing Planning, Organizing, Training, Equipping, Exercising, Evaluating, and Taking Corrective Action
Preparedness Cycle. Source: FEMA.gov

Using mitigation (actions to reduce emissions and activities that contribute to climate change) and adaptation (actions to improve resiliency to climate change and natural hazards), the City is proactively preparing for future conditions.

On this website, you’ll find resources for understanding the purpose, importance, and process of increasing disaster preparedness. Additionally, you will learn how to get prepared by following a simple, three-step process of making a plan, building a kit, and helping each other.

Tips for Every Day

You probably already knew that you can “green” your home and your commute, but what about your life? In fact, many changes that you can make in your life start with simple behavior changes. You can (and definitely should!) install CFL light bulbs in your home, but it’s also important that you get into the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room.

To live a green life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your lifestyle (although you can change something as significant as your diet for an even bigger impact!). There are plenty of ways to get what you’re used to getting while also reducing your ecological footprint.

The Steps You Can Take Every Day page of this website provides a list of specific tips, but below are some general considerations.

Purchasing Power (GOODS)

As a consumer, you hold incredible power. The decisions you make at the checkout will shift and direct trends of the market. Use your money to purchase recycled, recyclable, durable goods with the least amount of packaging.

Dietary Habits and Food Preferences (FOOD)

Different dietary preferences may have more or less of an impact on the environment. A vegetarian diet, for instance, requires fewer inputs and resources, and generates fewer emissions than an omnivore’s diet.

Buy local and organic food which requires less fuel for shipping or petrochemical-based fertilizers and pesticides that can be harmful to human health and the environment. Also be sure to buy foods when they are in season.

Green Leisure

How you spend your downtime can make a significant contribution to your ecological footprint. Green your vacations by reducing travel or choosing a more efficient method of traveling. And make sure that your play time is just as green! Spend more time outdoors, enjoying activities that use fewer resources.

Health and Wellness

Take care of yourself by greening your health and wellness routines. This includes choosing healthy, natural products for your personal care. Be sure that what you do to make yourself healthier is also something that makes our planet healthier!

Tips On the Go

Making smarter transportation choices has both economic and environmental benefits. You can reduce your travel footprint by improving the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, if you have one, and using less-polluting methods for your commute, such as carpooling; riding the bus, light rail or train; biking or walking.

The Steps You Can Take—On the Go page of this website includes tips for reducing the negative impacts of your transportation by taking actions related to:

Auto-Use

If you drive, choosing a fuel efficient car is the first step. After that, it’s important that you continue to care for your car properly.

Commuting

Commuting to and from work is a major part of most people’s days.  These tips explain how you can reduce your impact by choosing a more resource-friendly mode of traveling.

Travel

All that we do, including our travel and vacationing, impacts the environment. How you get to where your going is a major decision; and be sure to also consider what you do during your trip, which is discussed in the Steps You Can Take—Every Day page of this website.