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3 posts from May 2019

05/12/2019

Natural Climate Solutions: The Nature Conservancy's Jennifer Tabola Discusses Its New Initiative to Address Climate Change (May 8th)

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It should go without stating "nature's contribution to people are vital to human existence."  Nevertheless, this was the third line in the May 6th report by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  As the report notes, "70% of drugs used for cancer are natural or are synthetic products inspired by nature, four billion people reply primarily on natural medicines for their health and, among other examples, 70% of global food crops rely on animal pollination.   "Nature underpins," the report states, "all dimension of human health."  Duly noted, noted, the UN report goes on to detail at great length the fact nature is being "significantly altered by multiple human drives" including anthropogenic global warming that among other things is presently threatening approximately 25% of species of assessed animal and plant groups "suggesting that around 1 million species already fact extinction unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss."  As of 2016 over 9% of 6,190 domesticated breeds of indigenous mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct.  (Despite the UN report's devastating findings and/or dire warning), the head of the Democratic Party (the only major party to recognize climate change), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, did not bother to release a press release commenting on the IPBES report's findings.)  One way to substantially mitigate nature's collapse are via natural climate solutions, largely reforestation.   As it relates to greenhouse gas emissions, forests act as carbon sinks.      

During this approximately 25-minute discussion Ms. Tabola explains how the The Nature Conservancy's (TNC's) Natural Climate Solutions initiative was born or its rationale.  She moreover explains how and why "natural" climate solutions present a substantial opportunity to mitigate the adverse effects of global warming.  I.e., re-greening the planet via net zero deforestation and reforestation, related re-vegetation of coastal habitats (think: mangroves, salt marshes, sea grass beds) and several other changes in land use, e.g., use of cover crops on crop lands, in sum nature-based solutions, are estimated to potentially provide 37% of climate change mitigation until 2030 needed to meet the Paris climate accord goal of keeping warming to no greater than 2 degrees Celsius.  

Ms. Tabola is currently TNC’s Acting Director of its Climate Strategy programming that addresses forest and soil carbon science, forestry, communications, carbon finance and policy, and works to connect global, regional and local climate work across TNC.  Previously, Ms. Tabola served as TNC’s Deputy Managing Director for Global Lands.  Prior to TNC, she was Tabolathe Senior Director for Health and Climate Change at ecoAmerica, leading a national strategy across the health sector to elevate climate solutions as a top health priority.  Ms. Tabola has also been the Senior Director of Education at the National Environmental Education Foundation, leading national strategy, programming and partnerships to advance K-12 climate change and environmental literacy.  Ms. Tabola also worked in the U.S. federal government within the Corporation for National and Community Service as the Education and Training Director for the National Civilian Conservation Corps and as one of the first national AmeriCorps Program Officers.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, Ms. Tabola collaborated with international and local NGOs to develop the country’s first urban environmental youth service corps.  Ms. Tabola holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine, and a Masters in Policy from Harvard University.  She is a Board Member of the Green Schools National Network, the Climate for Health Leadership Circle, and is a member of her city’s local Environmental Services Council.

Since Ms. Tabloa is presently serving in an acting role re: TNC's Natural Climate Solutions, her comments are her own. 

TNC's Natural Climate Solutions web page is at: https://global.nature.org/initiatives/natural-climate-solutions

The UN IPBES report's 39-page summary, see particularly "key messages" at pgs. 1-9, is at: https://www.ipbes.net/system/tdf/spm_global_unedited_advance.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=35245  

The October 2017 National Academy of Sciences Proceedings' paper, "Natural Climate Solutions," also mentioned during this discussion, is at: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/114/44/11645.full.pdf

05/05/2019

Kaiser's Kathy Gerwig Discusses Her Organization's Effort to Go Carbon Neutral By Next Year Improving the Lives of Millions (May 3rd)

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After the food industry health care is considered this country's second largest emitter of green house gas (GHG) pollution.  With emissions equal to approximately 655m metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, if the health care industry was its own country it would rank 13th worldwide in GHG emissions.  Yale researchers have estimated the industry's GHG emissions alone are “commensurate with” the 44,000 to 98,000 annual hospital deaths the Institute of Medicine estimated from preventable medical errors nearly 20 years ago.  In addition, more recent research has shown that compared to similarly sized organizations, very few health care organizations make the effort to report their GHG emissions via the Carbon Disclosure Project or by other means.  

During this 29-minute conversation Ms. Gerwig discusses the climate change related adverse health effects Kaiser providers are currently treating.  In California, these result largely from air quality compromised by wildfires.  Moreover, she discusses the specifics concerning Kaiser's recent purchase of 180 MW of clean/renewable energy (wind and solar) along with battery storage, the expected return on this investment, patient and employee reaction to Kaiser's carbon neutral efforts,  related state efforts via the newly-formed CA Health Care Climate Alliance, Kaiser's 2017 issuance of $1 billion in green bonds and additional efforts to reduce KP's carbon footprint via improvements in supply chain management, transportation, water consumption and waste management.   Kaiser anticipates they will be carbon neutral (Katy defines as Scope 1 and 2) by next year. 

Ms. Kathy Gerwig is currently Kaiser Permanente's VP of Employee Safety, Health and Wellness and also serves as KP's Environmental Stewardship Officer.  She is responsible for organizing and 0managing KP's nationwide environmental initiative.  In forwarding this work Kathy has testified twice to Congress on the need for federal chemical policy reform, and she has appeared at numerous hearings on environmental issues.  Ms. Gerwig is also KP's national leader for Employee Safety and Health and Wellness, responsible for eliminating workplace injuries and reducing health risks for the organization.  Prior to joining KP 1993, Ms. Gerwig was an environmental and economic development consultant to businesses and public agencies in the United States and Europe.  Prior still she worked for nonprofit environmental organizations in California.  Ms. Gerwig holds a MBA with honors, from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s in geography and environmental studies from San Francisco State University.  She is a certified professional health care risk manager, a certified professional environmental auditor, and a certified health care environmental manager.  Her 2014 book published by Oxford and titled, Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet, examines the intersections of health care and environmental health both in terms of harmful impacts and the revolution underway to address them.

The Kaiser press release noted is at: https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/community-health/news/kaiser-permanente-finalizes-agreement-to-enable-carbon-neutralit

Information on Greening Health Care is at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/greening-health-care-9780199385836?cc=us&lang=en&

05/03/2019

Essay: "The Health Care Industry’s Climate Nihilism" (May 3rd)

Coincident with my discussion with Kaiser Permanente's Ms. Kathy Gerwig noted above, The Morning Consult, published today my essay titled, "The Health Care Industry's Climate Nihilism."  It is at: https://morningconsult.com/opinions/health-care-industry-climate-nihilism/.  As you'll see the US health care industry is a major contributor to US greenhouse gas emissions that Yale researcher's estimate account for a significant number of annual deaths.   In addition, the industry has taken little interest in reporting this health harm.  One provider that is taking its carbon footprint seriously is Kaiser.